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The Anlimension in [he Liturgical and Canonical 
Tradition of [he Byzantine and Latin Churches 

An Infer- rifual Inier- confessional Study 


Right Rev. Archimandrite Januarius M. Izzo, o.f.m., m.a., j.c.d. 

Pontificium Athenaeum Antonianum 
Romae, 1975 

Fr. Archimandrite JANUARIUS iZZO,O.RAl 
Marian Manor Nursing Home 
130 Dorchester Street 
Boston, MA 02127-2642 

The Anfimension in [he Liturgical and Canonical 
. Tradition of fhe Byzantine and Latin Churches 

An Infer- ritual Inrer- confessional Study 


Right Rev. Archimandrite Januarius M. Izzo, o.f.m., m.a., j.c.d. 

Pontificium Athenaeum Antonianum 
Romae, 1975 


R. P. Salvator Peperoni, ofm., Patronus 
P. P. Gulielmus O' Connell, ofm., Censor 
R. P. Antonius Domingues de Sousa Costa, ofm., Censor 

Romae, ex aedibus Pontificii Athenaei Antoniani 
26 Iunii 1968 


Very Rev. John Marie Cassese, ofm., 
Minister Provincial s 

New York, U.S.A. 
February 24, 1975 


Fr. Iulius Mancini, ofm., 
Min. Prov.lis 

ac Basilicae Patr. Portiunculae Delegatus 

S. Mariae Angelorum in Portiuncula die 2 augusti 1975 





In selecting the topic of the antimension, I was influenced by pastoral 
work done in both the Latin and Byzantine Rites in circumstances where I 
had occasion to use, and to provide for the missionaries of my beloved Pro- 
vince of the Immaculate Conception, both the Byzantine and Latin forms of 
antimensia. When I looked into the literature bearing upon this useful 
liturgical furnishing, I found that almost nothing had been written in En- 
glish, and that very little comparative study had been done, especially from 
the canonical point of view (as indeed there are very few interritual compa- 
rative studies extent in the fields of Western and Eastern canon law). 

With the new spur given to the study of the institutions of the Oriental 
Church, as regards both our Catholic and our unfortunately still Separated 
Brethren, by the Ecumenical Movement, I felt that I might contribute in 
some very small way to a greater mutual understanding and appreciation 
of the riches inherent in our different modes of expressing the same or very 
similar traditions of worship and belief. 

When examining the Western authors for the reason behind the fact 
that Latin priests were allowed to use for the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice 
of the Mass Oriental Rite altars but never the Byzantine antimension (ca- 
non 823, § 2 of the Pian-Benedictan Code of Canon Law), I was discon- 
certed at some of the misconceptions under which these otherwise eminent 
authorities labored. I have refrained from commenting, in general, upon 
their works for two reasons : 1) it serves the purpose of truth to be positive 
rather than negative in approach, and 2) it seems smug for one who delves 
into a specialized field to criticize those who do great service to canonical 
science by writing general works in which they must cover vast fields and 
must necessarily quickly pass over points which are not of great importance 
to their study. In general, one might say that the most common rnisapprehn- 
sion was that the antimension is not a consecrated altar. 

I was also influenced by the fact that I had been asked many times by 
missionaries to explain the nature and use of the antimension, which they 
adopted so commonly as a convenient form of the portable altar, and so 


thought that I might benefit them and myself by acquiring some background 
and knowledge in this subject. 

While it is true that the ig6g Institutio Generalis Missalis Romanum, 
n. 260, does not require a portable (moveable) altar when the Holy Sacrifice 
of the Mass is celebrated in the Latin Rite outside of a sacred place (Church), 
merely per modum actus, we will see how this is to be understood. I do not 
believe that this has derrogated entirely from the usefulness of the antimen- 
sion even in the Latin Rite, for although it may not be always strictly re- 
quired by law to celebrate extra loca sacra on a moveable altar, still it is 
the solid Christian Tradition, sanctioned by Ecumenical Councils, to do so, 
and I believe it should still be done where the use of a portable altar is at all 
practical. In any case, the antimension retains its perenial usefulness (and 
necessity) in the Byzantine Rite. 

In the citations which I have herein included, I have used two different 
criteria, based on the fact that due to the technical difficulties involved I was 
not able to include long quotations in Greek and in the Slavic languages 
using the Cyrillic alphabet : 1) for languages using the Latin alphabet, 
I have made a free translation but included the original text in the footnotes 
(which for this reason are often rather lengthy) which gave me the liberty to 
render the sense in an English which I hope will be more understandable ; 
2) in the citations from the languages which do not use the Latin alphabet 
and which I have not included in the original, I have tried to adhere as clo- 
sely as possible to literal translation. 

Where I have used the term Byzantine Church or Byzantine Rite, 
/ mean to refer to discipline common to both Catholics and our Eastern 
Orthodox Separated Brethren ; where necessary, I have specified by the 
term Catholic those of the Byzantine Rite in formal and perfect communion 
with the Apostolic See of Rome ; and by the term Orthodox, our Separated 
Brethren of the Byzantine Rite. 

The research I have found to be immensely interesting, and for the pur- 
pose of seeing the Oriental altar and antimension in its proper milieu, I 
travelled, through the kindness and generosity of my Very Reverend Mi- 
nister Provincial, Father Matthew M. De Benedicitis, O.F.M. and of the 
confreres and benefactors of my Province, through Egypt, the Holy Land, 
Greece, Mount Athos, the Middle-East, the Balkans and the Soviet Union 
(Russia and the Ukraine). 

However, this study would never have come to any fruition at all, if 
it had not been for the interest, encouragement and aid of my Reverend Pro- 
fessors of the Faculty of Canon Law of the Pontificium Athenaeum Anto- 
nianum, Father Anthony Domingues de Sousa Costa, O.F.M. (Dean of 


the Faculty of Canon Law), Father William O'Connell, O.F.M. (Prefect 
of Studies), Father Bartholomew J. Belluco, O.F.M., and Father Andre- :j 
Boni, O.F.M., which I appreciate more than mere words are able to expres: . 
But above all, I must thank my professor and mentor, Father Salvatore Pc- 
peroni, O.F.M. of the same faculty, for his guidance, patience, many helpful 
suggestions and fatherly advice. 

A word of appreciation also to His Emminence Ferdinand Cardinal 
Antonelli, O.F.M., Secretary of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, and 
Most Rev. Vladyka Andrew Katkoff, M.I.C., Apostolic Visitator for 
all the Russian Catholics outside of Russia and Ordaining Prelate for the 
Byzantine Rite in Rome, and to Very Rev. Father Alphonse Raes, S.J , 
'Prefect of the Vatican Library, and the Reverend Archivists at the Sacrei 
Congregations of Rites, the Sacred Congregation for the Oriental Churches, 
and the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith ; also Reverend 
Father John Rezac, S.J., Secretary of the Pontifical Institute for Oriental 
Studies at Rome, and Reverend Father Antony Koren, S.J., Ecclesiarch of 
the Russian Byzantine Church of St. Antony at Rome and Professor of 
Liturgy at the Pontifical Russian College (Russicum), Very Rev. Francis 
J Muller, O.F.M., Definitor General, Very Rev. Maurice Grajewski, O.F.M., 
General Prefect of Studies, and to my Reverend Master of Student Priests, 
Father Valerius Messerich, O.F.M. All have helped me by their sug- 
gestions and I or facilitating my research. To all the aforementioned I owe 
a grat debt of gratitude which I wish to here publicly acknowledge. 

January 19/6 1975 
Feast of the Theophany 

Fr. Archimandrite Januarius M. Izzo, o.f.m., m.a., j.c.d. 

Franciscan Province of the Immaculate Conception 

147 Thompson Street 

New York, New York 100 12 


Cyrillic Latin Cyrillic Latin 



















































































































' (soft sign) 

" (hard sign) 



CIC Fontes 
CICO Fonti 

C.L. Digest 






Goar, Euchologion 



Nikolskij, Antimins 
Nikolskij, Ustav 

Acta Apostolicae Sedis. 
Acta Sanctorum. 

The Catholic Encyclopedia (1907). 
Codex Iuris Canonici (191 7). 
Codicis Iuris Canonici Fontes. 

S. Congregazione per la Chiesa Orientale, Codificazione 
Canonica Orientale - Fonti. 

Bouscaren, The Canon Law Digest. 

Dictionnaire d' Archiologie Chretienne et de Liturgie. 

Dictionnaire de Droit Canonique. 

Dictionnaire de ThSologie Catholique. 

Enciclopedia Italiana (Treccani). 

The Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics. 

Jacobus Goar, ETXOAOriON sive Rituale Graecorum. 

Ioannes Dominicus Mansi, Sacrorum Conciliorum Nova 
et Amplissima Collectio. 

Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores Rerum Me- 

The New Catholic Encyclopedia (1967). 

Nikolskij, Constantine, Ob Antiminsakh Pravoslavnoi 
Russkoj Cerkvi. 

Nikolskij, Constantine, Posobije k izuceniju Ustava 
BogosluZenija Pravoslavnoj Cerkvi. 

Ordines Romani. 



(Cummings) The Rudder {Pedalion) (trans. D. Cummings) 


Petrides, DTC 







"Antimension" Dictionnaire d'Archeologie Chritienne et 
de Liturgie, torn. I, part. II, col. 2319-2326. 

"Antimension" Dictionnaire de Thiologie Catholique, vol. I, 
part II, col. 1389-1391. 

"L'Antimension", Les Echos d'Orient III (1899) 193-202. 
Migne, Patrologia Graeca. 
Migne, Patrologia Latina. 

The Sacred Congregation for the Oriental Churches. 

The Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the 
Faith (The Sacred Congregation for the Evangelization 
of Peoples). 

The Sacred Congregation of Rites. (The Sacred Congre- 
gation for Divine Worship). 



Preface vn 

Transliteration of Cyrillic alphabet x 

Abbreviations xi 

Table of contents xiii 

Introduction i 

I. Importance of the Study of the Antimension 2 

II. The Fonts of Byzantine Canonical Discipline as Related to our 

Study 3 

III. Survey of Some Modern Scientific Literature on the Antimension 9 

IV. Origins of the Christian Altar in Relation to the Antimension 12 

A. The Mensa-Domini Tradition 13 

B. Altar-Tomb of Martyr Tradition 16 



Chapter One : The Byzantine Antimension : Concept and termi- 
nology 23 

Chapter Two : Historical Conspectus and Canonical Sources . . 27 

Chapter Three : The outward form of the Byzantine Antimkxsion 33 

I. Material and Dimensions 33 

II. Ornamentation and Inscriptions 37 

III. Inclusion of Relics 4 6 



Chapter Four : The consecration of the Byzantine Antimension . 55 

I. Minister of Consecration 55 

II. Formalities of the Rite of Consecration 62 

A. Occasion and Composition of the Ceremonial of Consecration 62 

B. Preparations Necessary for the Consecration 65 

C. The Ceremony of Consecration 69 

1. During the Consecration of a Fixed Altar ...... 73 

2. Apart from the Consecration of a Fixed Altar .... 76 

D. Scholion : Origin and Nature of the Hallowing of the By- 
zantine Antimension 78 

III. Loss of Usefulness of the Antimension (Exsecration) .... 80 

Chapter Five : The use of the Byzantine Antimension 103 

I. Material Element (How Used) 103 

A. The Antimension Used as a Portable Altar 105 

B. The Antimension Used on a Consecrated Fixed Altar . . 110 
II. Formal Element (Permission to Use the Antimension) 125 

A. As Used by a Bishop of the Byzantine Rite 127 

B. As Used by a Priest of the Byzantine Rite 128 

C. The Antimension and Persons not in Major Sacred Orders 141 



Section One : The Byzantine Antimension as used by Latin Rite 

Clergy 147 

Chapter One : Prior to the Pian-Benedictan Code of Canon Law 149 

I. In Latin Rite Territories 149 

II. In Byzantine Rite Territories 156 

Chapter Two : The Law of the Pian-Benedictan Code 161 

Chapter Three : After the Pian-Benedictan Code of Canon Law . 167 

Section Two : The Latin Rite Antimensium 174 


Chapter One : Origin of the Latin Antimensium historical con- 
spectus 175 

Chapter Two : Present concept and terminology 183 

Chapter Three : The outward form of the Latin Antimensium . 187 

I. Material 187 

II. Dimensions 191 

III. Inclusion of Relics 193 

Chapter Four : The Blessing of the Latin Antimensium .... 197 

I. Minister of Blessing 198 

II. Preparations Necessary for the Blessing 201 

III. The Ceremony of Blessing 203 

IV. Loss of Blessing of the Latin Antimensium. (Exsecration) . 204 

Chapter Five : The use of the Latin Antimensium 207 

I. Material Element (How Used) 207 

II. Formal Element (Permission to use the Antimensium) . . 212 

A. The Motu Proprio Pastorale Munus 212 

B. The Pontifical Rescript Cum Admotae 216 

C. Decennial Faculties of the S.C. de Propaganda Fide . 217 

D. Decennial Faculties for Latin America and Philippine Islands 219 

E. Catholic Near East Welfare Association 220 

F. Military Ordinariate of the United States of America 221 

G. Particular Indults Granted to Individuals by the Holy See 222 

Chapter Six. : A further development in Latin Rite Liturgical Law 225 

Conclusions 229 

Bibliography . 235 

Biographical note 271 


Appendix I. Texts and Documents 173 

A. Canons of Patriarch Nicephoros (photocopy of Pitra, Vol. II. 

pp. 329, 337) • • ' ' 2 75 



B. Text of Consecration of Byzantine Antimension translated into 
English 277 

C. The Consecration of a Church by a Byzantine Priest (not a Bishop) 
using an Antimension 285 

1. Outline 285 

2. Ceremony itself 288 

D. A Letter from the Archives of the Sacred Congregation of Rites 
Concerning a "veil with relics" 298 

E. Forms used by the Sacred Congregation for the Oriental Churches 
for the Granting of the Privilege to substitute the (Byzantine) 
Antimension for the petra sacra 300 

1. For Bishops . 300 

2. For Priests 301 

F. Text of Blessing of the Antimensium Latinum traslated into 
English 302 

G. A Private Reply of the Sacred Congregation of Rites Concerning 

the Antimensium Latinum 303 

Appendix II. Tables, Photographs and Drawings 305 

A. Table - Some Modern Printed Byzantine Antimensia Compared 307 

B. Photographs of Western and Eastern Rite Fixed and Portable 
Altars (antimensia, petra sacra, tablets, etc.) 309 

C. Drawings of Medieval Russian Orthodox Antimensia (from Ni- 
kolskij, Antimins) 328 

Index 401 


In this study we propose to examine a part of the canonical insti- 
tute of the altar, the portable altar, and specifically the antimension 
in the canonical tradition of both the Byzantine Church (in which the 
antimension in its present form originated) and the Latin Church (in 
which the Byzantine antimension has of late been imitated in the form 
of the antimensium latinum). Since the antimension is a liturgical acces- 
sory, it will be necessary also to refer to the liturgical traditions of both 
the Byzantine and Latin Churches, without which this form of the por- 
table altar cannot be properly understood. In regard to the Byzantine 
Church, because the canonical and liturgical discipline apropos the anti- 
mension underwent great evolution during the period in which the ma- 
jority of the Oriental Churches were not in official communion with the 
Apostolic See of Rome, we will often have occasion to refer to fonts of 
law originating with our separated Oriental Brethren. 

The modus procedendi will in general be a systematic one rather 
than adhesion to the chronological order of the material in question. 
Because of the esoteric nature of this subject matter, it has been thought 
expedient for the purposes of clarity to repeat texts, definitions and 
explanations in many places. Arabic numerals have been added in the 
left hand margin to indicate a change of subject or argument, also in 
the hopes of clarity among a maze of details. 

Before beginning our study, we feel it expedient to briefly consider: 

1) the importance of the study of the antimension at the present 

time ; 

2) some brief elucidations concerning the fonts of Byzantine canon 
law as related to our study ; 

3) a survey of some modern scientific literature on the antimen- 
sion ; and 

4) the antimension in the background of the general history of the 
christian altar. 

2 - J. M. Izzo - The Antimension 


I. Importance of the Study of the Antimension 

The importance of the study of the antimension may be gathered 
from the fact that its use has become widespread, especially in the last 
twenty years, even in the Latin Church as a conveniently carried portable 
altar for travelling priests and military chaplains, and as a serviceable 
substitute for the somewhat clumsy petra-sacra for an improvised altar 
versus populum sanctioned by the new liturgy. 1 Literally thousands of 
Byzantine antimensions are consecrated each year and distributed to 
both Latin and Byzantine Catholic clergy all over the world by the Sa- 
cred Congregation for the Oriental Churches, the various Military Ordi- 
nariates, and organizations such as the Catholic Near East Welfare Asso- 
ciation. There are no statistics available as to how many are distributed 
through individual Byzantine Catholic Bishops and how many Latin 
antimensia are blessed and distributed by individual Latin Bishops, but 
the number is no doubt considerable. 2 

Furthermore, the Latin Church in imitating the Byzantine anti- 
mension and giving certain faculties (such as those of Pastorale Munus, 
Decennial Faculties of S.C.P.F., Decennial Faculties for Latin America 
and Philippine Islands, and faculties for the Military Ordinariates, etc.) 
for the use, under specified conditions, of the Byzantine and Latin forms 
of the antimension, has modified in a certain way its traditional atti- 
tude to the antimension as developed in the decrees of the Supreme 
Pontiffs Pope Clement VIII and Pope Benedict XIV and finally crystal- 
lized in the clause of canon 823 § 2 3 "non autem super Graecorum anti- 

1 In many cases, awaiting a definitive solution to the problem of celebrat- 
ing the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass versus populum in a church where the main 
altar cannot be adapted for this purpose, rather than going to the expense of 
having a special temporary altar versus populum constructed, many pastors 
have installed an ordinary but suitable table, formerly used for some other pur- 
pose and not provided with a recess or depressed slot for the insertion of a petra 
sacra. To avoid danger of having the chalice or ciborium tip over when placed 
too near the elevated edges of the portable altar stone, permission has been 
obtained from the Local Ordinary to substitute the Latin or Byzantine form 
of the antimension for the petra sacra. 

2 About 2,000 per year are distributed through the Vicariate of Rome, 


3 Canon 823, 2 : « Deficiente altari proprii ritus, sacerdos fas est ritu pro- 
prio celebrare in altari consecratio alius ritus catholici, non autem super Graeco- 
rum antimensiis ». « When an altar of his own rite is not available, a priest may, 


tnensii" (which bewildered many of our Oriental brethren and seemed 
to cast doubt upon the propriety of one of their most ancient and ve- 
nerable institutions), and thus there can be no longer doubt about mere 
toleration of its use. 

For, in the Byzantine Rite, the antimension is not only a substitute 
for an altar, it is a type of celebret, a symbol of apostolic continuity and 
communion with the Church Universal. Where the antimension is pre- 
sent, the place is transformed into a temple for the true worship of God, 
in communion with the Saints whose relics are therein enclosed, and in 
communion with the rightful hierarchy and successors of the Apostles, 
through whose representative the antimension was consecrated and con- 
signed to the priest celebrant of the Eucharistic Synaxis. 

It is important for us, then, to understand the concept behind the 
antimension and its proper use, in order to be in accord with the mind of 
the Church which grants permission for its employment, and to under- 
stand and appreciate more deeply this sacred, venerable and so characte- 
ristic institution of our Oriental brethren, of both those in perfect union 
and those only in imperfect union with the Apostolic See of Rome. 

Finally, the student of the Canon Law of the Latin Church can hadly 
afford to ignore the history, development and discipline concerning the 
prototype of the antimensium latinum, which has recently entered inti- 
mately into the canonical discipline of the Latin Church. 

II. The Fonts of Byzantine Canonical Discipline as Related to 
our Study 

The canonical discipline of the Byzantine Church, both Catholic 
and Orthodox (Dissident) at the present moment is in much the same 
state of affairs as was Latin Rite canon law before the promulgation of 
the Pian-Benedictan Code of Canon Law. Since it is not yet codified, we 
will have more occasion to refer to custom, tradition, the doctrine of 
canonical commentators, and discipline as embodied in official liturgical 
books, than to canons as such. 

For Catholics of the Oriental Rites, some sections of their discipline 
have been alrady codified and promulgated by the authority of the 
Apostolic See of Rome, namely : 

using his own rite, celebrate Mass on a consecrated altar of another Catholic 
rite, but not on the antimensia of the Greeks ». 


De Ritibus Orientalibus 4 
De Personis 5 
De Religiosis 6 

De Bonis Ecclesiasticis Temporalibus 4 
De Verborum Significatione 8 
De Disciplina Sacramenti Matrimonii 9 
De Iudiciis 10 

The sections of Oriental Canon Law which would interest us in our 
present study, namely De Locis Sacris and De loco Missae Celebrandae 
have not been as yet codified and thus we are thrown back for resources 
even insofar as regards the Catholics of the Byzantine Rite upon the ge- 
neral Fontes Exsistendi et Cognoscendi of the Byzantine Rite and its 
various sub-branches. 11 

We will consider first the substratum commune of law proper to 
Byzantine, both Catholics and Orthodox. These general fonts are : 

4 Motu Proprio Cleri Sanctitati of Pope Pius XII, June 2, 1956. We may 
note that the Latin language was used for this codification in imitation of Ju- 
stinian's codification of the civil law, and because Latin is a more universal 

6 Ibidem. 

6 Motu Proprio Postquam Apostolicis of Pope Pius XII, February 9, 1952. 

7 Ibidem. 

8 Ibidem. 

9 Motu Proprio Crebrae Allatae of Pope Pius XII, February 22, 1949. 

10 Motu Proprio Sollicitudinem Nostrum of Pope Pius XII, January 6, 


11 The sub-branches, or particular churches of the Byzantine Rite are as 
follows, arranged alphabetically : the Church of Albania, the Church of Bje- 
lorussia (White Russia), the Church of Bulgaria, the Orthodox Church of China, 
the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, the Orthodox Church of Estonia 
and Lithuania, the Church of Finland, the Orthodox Church of Japan, the Church 
of Georgia, the Church of Greece, the Italo-Greek-Albanian Church, the Church 
of Yugoslavia, the Melkite Church, the Church of Rumania, the Church of Russia 
(Patriarchate of Moscow), the Ruthenian Church, the Slovak Church of the 
Byzantine Rite, the Ukrainian Church, the Hungarian Church of the Byzantine 
Rite. All of these contain both Catholic and Orthodox (Dissident) groups, except 
those which have been specified as Orthodox (China, Japan, Estonia and Li- 
thuania), and the Italo-Greek- Albanians (who are all Catholics) ; cfr. William 
W. Bassett, The Determination of Rite, Rome : (Analecta Gregoriana, vo. 157 
Series Facultatis Iuris Canonici : sectio B, n. 21) Gregorian University Press 
(sic), 1967, pp. 241-257, and passim. Other enumerations are possible. 


Fontes Exist endi 12 

Ecumenical Councils 

The Patriarch 

The Patriarchal Synod 

Topical Synods (Local Councils) 

Canonical Fathers 13 

The Liturgical Books 

Custom 14 

Canonical Doctors 

Civil Laws regarding Ecclesiastical Matters 15 

The Bishop in his Eparchy 16 

The Synaxis of an Independent Monastery 17 


Fontes Cognoscendi 18 

85 Canons of the Apostles (pseudo-Apostolic writings) 
The Canons of the First 7 Ecumenical Councils (i.e. first six and 
some of the Council of Trullo) 18a 

12 Cfr. Acacius Cardinal Coussa, Epitome Praelectionum de lure Eccle- 
siastico Orientali, vol. I, Grottaferrata (Rome) : Typis Monasterii Exarchici 
Cryptoferratensis, 1948, pp. 41-94 ; also CICO Fonti, serie XXI, vol. VIII, 
Studi Storici sulle Fonti del Diritto Canonico Orientale (C. Korlevskij et alibi), 
pp. 1-29, 1 71-186, passim, and Msgr. Victor J. Pospishil, "Source of Eastern 
Church Law," John XXIII Lectures (John XXIII Center for Eastern Christian 
Studies, Fordham University, Bronx, New York), Vol. I (1965) : 1 13-123. 

13 These are the writings of certain Fathers and Saints which, while having 
no public authority in themselves, were approved and promulgated by General 
or Particular Synods, especially the Council of Trullo (691). 

14 Cfr. Coussa, op. cit., pp. 78-81. 

15 Cfr. Ibidem, pp. 94-101, for a study of this complicated problem. The 
Canonical Fathers, liturgical Books, Canonical Doctors, and civil laws regarding 
ecclesiastical matters are considered by some as Fontes cognoscendi rather than 
Fontes existendi ; cfr. Coussa, loc. cit. 

16 Cfr. Ibidem, p. 305 ; Cleri Sanctitati, canons 399 and 428. 

17 Cfr. CICO Fonti, serie II, fascicolo X : Placidus De Meester, De 
Monachico Statu iuxta Disciplinam Byzantinam (194 2 ). PP- 4° (cfr. also cor- 
rigenda for p. 40), 44, 345 ; Postquam Apostolicis, canon 26. The Synaxis is 
equivalent to the Latin Monastic Chapter. 

18 Cfr. Amleto Giovanni Cardinal Cicognani, Canon Law (authorized 
English version by Joseph M. O'Hara and Francis Brennan), Philadelphia : 
The Dolphin Press, 1934, PP- 192-207, 449-462 ; CICO Fonti, serie I, vol. VIII, 
loc. cit. ; Coussa, op. cit., pp. 103-166. 

18a The Synod of Trullo, 691 A.D., also called the Quinisexta (since it was 
convoked to complete the work of the Fifth and Sixth Ecumenical Councils), is 


Canons of n Topical Synods Ai> 

Canons from the writings of 16 Canonical Fathers 20 
Canonical Collections. 

In this substratum commune of law, as we have already intimated, 
since the Oriental law is not codified, the teachings of the jurists (just as 
in the Digest of Justinian, itself a product of the Byzantine Empire) are 
very important as a suppletory font of law 21 and custom also has great 
weight. 22 

In regard to the Catholics of the Byzantine Rite, the Roman Pon- 
tiff and through his authority, the Roman Dicasteries (especially the 
Sacred Congregation for the Oriental Churches and the Sacred Congre- 

numbered by the Orthodox as one of the Ecumenical Councils but rejected as 
such by the Catholics. As Cardinal Cicognani, op. cit., p. 151 remarks: « The 
approved Trullan canons have been assigned to the Sixth Oecumenical Council 
with the consent of the Holy See. Beyond doubt the meaning of this appro- 
bation differs entirely from the opinion of the Oriental dissidents who alone hold 
this to be an oecumenical council... it is, however, the chief source of law of the 
Oriental Church for the Greek of Byzantine rite ». Cfr. also CICO Fonti, serie I, 
fasc. IX, t. I, 1 {Discipline Generale Antique - Les Canons des conciles oecumeni- 
ques), pp. 1, 98-100 ; Cicognani, op. cit., pp. 151-157 ; Coussa, op. cit., p. 115 ; 
Pedalion (Cummings), pp. 283-285, 287-289. 

19 Cfr. Cicognani, op. cit., pp. 192-198 ; Coussa, op. cit., pp. 112-115. 

20 13 and 3 « Adnumerati » : St. Dionysius of Alexandria, St. Gregory 
Thaumaturgus, St. Peter of Alexandria, St. Athanasius of Alexandria, St. Basil 
the Great, St. Gregory of Nyssa, Timothy of Alexandria, Theophilus of Alexan- 
dria, St. Cyril of Alexandria, St. Gregory the Theologian (of Nazianzen), St. Am- 
philochius of Iaconia, St. Gennadius of Constantinople, and St. Cyprian of Car- 
thage (the only Occidental Canonical Father) ; cfr. Cicognani, op. cit., pp. 198- 
199, where he also remarks on p. 198 : "Note here a remarkable innovation. 
Up to this time the collections have been conciliar. Now they are mixed. To the 
canons are added decisions of the Fathers, thus introducing a new source of law 
and attributing to the Greek Fathers, at least implicitly, an authority similar 
to that of jurists in civil law. In fact the Trullan Collection — following the 
example of Valentinian and Justinian in regard to the jurists — indicated the 
twelve Fathers to be followed as authorities" ; Coussa, op. cit., pp. 116-119. 
Besides the 13 Canonical Fathers named in the second canon of the Council of 
Trullo (Cardinal Cicognani's book is subject to a lapsus calami when it mentions 
12 Canonical Fathers ; there are 12 Greek, and one Latin, Fathers), there are 
generally added in the collections : John IV the Faster, of Constantinople ; 
St. Nicephorus I the Confessor, of Constantinople ; and Nicholas III Grammaticos 
of Constantinople. Cfr. Coussa, op. cit., pp. 118-119. 

21 Cfr. Coussa, op. ext., pp. 84-85. 
M Cfr. Ibidem, pp. 78-81. 


gation of the Holy Office) 23 form additonal Fontes Existendi and thus 
the legislation emanating from these sources form are added to the sub- 
stratum commune as Fontes Cognoscendi ; the Latin Code of Canon Law 
forms, for these Oriental Catholics, a suppletory font of law. 24 

Among the canonical collections, we will have occasion to quote 
the Pedalion (Greek for "Rudder") 25 which is an official collection 26 
of the Greek Orthodox Church, especially for the Patriarchate of Con- 
stantinople and the autocephalous Church of Greece. Written in Greek 
by the monks Agapios and Nicodemos of Mt. Athos by command of 
Neophytus VIII, Patriarch of Constantinople, it was first printed and 
published in 1800. It contains the Canons of the Apostles, Canons of 
the Ecumenical and Topical Synods, Canons from the Fathers, including 
St. Nicephorus and John the Faster, with the commentaries of Aristenus, 
Zonarus and Theodore Balsamon, along with many explanatory notes by 
Agapios and Nicodemos. Editions : Leipzig, 1800 ; Athens, 1841, 1864, 
1908 ; translated into English by D. Cummings (from 1908 Athens edi- 
tion) and published in 1957 by the Orthodox Christian Educational So- 
ciety, Chicago. It has been called the Corpus Juris Canonici of the Greek 

What may we say in general of the value for Oriental Catholics of 
the ecclesiastical discipline which has its origin in Orthodox authorities ? 
Father Ivan Rezac, s.j., Secretary of the Pontifical Institute of Oriental 
Studies at Rome, writes in his Institutiones Iuris Canonici Orientalis : 

"The Roman Pontiffs often have declared that the Orientals 
returning to union with the Catholic Church may keep their 
own usages and customs, except those which might be contrary 
to true faith or good morals Thus, the fonts of law which they 

23 The names of these Sacred Congregations were changed by the Ap- 
ostolic Constitution De Romana Curia Regimini Ecclesiae Universae of August 
15, 1967 (AAS 59 [1967] 885-928), nn. 29, 41 to : The Sacred Congregation for 
the Oriental Churches (Sacra Congregatio pro Ecclesiis Orientalibus) and The 
Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (Sacra Congregatio pro Doc- 
trina Fidei). 

24 Cfr. Coussa, op. cit., pp. 82-83, 411 ; Ioannes Rezac, Institutiones 
Iuris Canonici Orientalis (reproduced by offset method, "ad usum privatum 
auditorum") Rome : Pontificium Institutum Orientalium Studiorum, 1961, 
part I, pp. 122-127. 

25 Referring to the rudder of the metaphorical ship of the Church of Christ. 

26 Cfr. CICO Fonti, serie I, vol. VIII, op. cit., pp. 180-181 ; Cicognani, 
op. cit., p. 204 ; Coussa, op. cit., p. 93. 


used up until the time of their reunion, may, according to this 
norm, be retained. There is no difficulty as long as we treat of 
laws promulgated by authorities who were in union with the 
Catholic Church. However, what may be said about the laws 
enacted after the schism ? Either, on the one hand, we are 
treating of collections which in great part contain the canons 
of the ancient law, and eliminating those things which must be 
expunged, the use of these books is ordinarily tolerated ; or, on 
the other hand, we are treating of laws originating from dissident 
(separated) authority, and thus (prescinding from the disputed 
question concerning the jurisdiction of the separated hierarchy), 
they may contain norms at least materially obligatory for 
Catholics inasmuch as these prescriptions have entered into the 
usages and customs of the faithful. Therefore, the knowledge of 
these fonts is necessary for Catholics, or at least useful." 27 

Furthermore, these fonts of law of the Orthodox are cited in the 
Fonts for the Condi fications of the Oriental Canon Law 28 published by the 
Sacred Congregation for the Oriental Churches, and by such emminent 
authors as Cardinal Acacius Coussa, 29 Archimandrite Placidus De Mees- 
ter, etc. 

27 Rezac, op. cit., pp. 72-73 : "Romani Pontifices saepe declaraverunt 
Orientales ad unionem Ecclesiae catholicae redeuntes proprios mores et con- 
suetudines servare posse, exceptis illis quae contraria essent verae fidei aut bonis 
moribus. Propterea fontes quoque iuris, quibus usque ad Unionem utebantur, 
iuxta hanc normam adhiberi poterat. Nulla adest difficultas quoties agitur de 
legibus editis ab auctoritate quae fuerat in unione cum Ecclesia catholica.. Quid 
vero de iure statuto tempore separtionis ? Vel agitur de collectionibus quae 
magna ex parte canones iuris antiqui continent, tunc eliminatis eliminandis, usus 
horum librorum ordinarie tolleratur ; vel agitur de legibus provenientibus ab 
auctoritate separata, et tunc (omissa quaestione disputata de iurisdictione hie- 
rarchiae separatae), materialiter saltern normas continere possunt pro catholicis 
obligatorias quatenus praescripta haec in mores et consuetudines fidelium transie- 
runt. Ideo cognitio horum fontium catholicis quoque necessaria vel saltern 
utilis est." 

28 Cfr. in particular CICO Fonti, serie I, vol. VIII, pp. 12-13, 200-201 
and especially pp. 216-217 where Father Cyril Korolevskij says much the same 
thing as Father Rezac. 

29 Coussa, op. cit., pp. 73, 147, 165, 175, 179, passim ; on p. 132 the late 
Cardinal Coussa notes : "Utilitas et commoda huius dissidentium legislationis 
sunt quod traditionem repraesentet et tentamen aptationis antiquae disciplinae 
Byzantinae exigentiis praesentis aetatis." 


III. Survey of Some Modern Scientific Literature on the Anti- 
men sion 

In this brief survey, our mode of treatment will be based on chror- 
ological order, and we will confine our study to the principal works. For 
full publishing information, cfr. our Bibliography. 

Year Author and work 

1872 Nikolskij, Constantine, On the Antimension in the Russiai 
Orthodox Church (in Russia, 384 pp.). The learned Archpriest 
treats of antimensia from a historical point of view, without 
delving into the canonical principles, especially in regard to 
those still preserved at his time in Russia. He reports the texts 
of many official church and state documents relating to the 
antimension and concludes his work with 25 plates of Russian 
antimensia dating from 1149 to 1707. The limitations of his 
work, other than its antiquity, are his confining of his study 
almost exclusively to the Russian Orthodox Church and his 
lack of canonical perspective. 

1899 Petrides, Sophrone, "L'antimension", Les Echos d'Orient (in 

French, 10 pp.). In this article, as well as his similar articles 
of the same name in DACL (1907) and DTC (1923) the author 
gives the origin, etymology, ancient and modern usage, descrip- 
tion and usage among Catholics of the antimension. The best 
of the articles is the one in DACL. Used chronological order 
not systematic. 

1900 Petrovskij, A., "Antimins", Russian Orthodox Theological Ency- 

clopedia (in Russian, 13 columns). The origins, consecration, 
and certain usages with regard to antimensia, especially those 
of the Russian Orthodox Church. Reports some otherwise 
unavailable decrees, and also details of several antimensia 
existing at his time in Russia. This is the last pre-revolutionary 
study of the antimension in his nation. 

1907 Shipman, Andrew, "Antimensium", The Catholic Encyclopedia 
(in English, one column). The author summarizes briefly the 
origins of the antimension in the times of Iconoclastic persecu- 
tion and gives some notes on modern usages. Good, but brief 
and out of date. The New Catholic Encyclopedia does not 
carry an article specifically treating of antimensia, neither 
Byzantine nor Latin. 

1916 Lubeck, K., "Das Antiminsion der Griechen", Der Katholik (in 
German, 20 pp.). Professor Lubeck follows the footsteps of 

Petrides, sometimes criticizes his work, but adds little new 

1924 Braun, Joseph, Der Chrisliche Altar, 2 vols, (in German, 1480 pp. 

in all, of which about 58 are devoted to, or carry notices about 
antimensia). This monumental work carries much useful 
historical, canonical, and liturgical material concerning the 
problem of the antimension ; there is little detailed material 
on modern antimensia. Not a systematic study of antimensia. 

1934 Nabaa', Phillip, "The Antimension in the Byzantine Church", 

Al Massarat (in Arabic, 8 pp.). The late Melkite Catholic Me- 
tropolitan of Beirut recapitulates the work of Petrides and 
Lubeck, but unfortunately gives us few details regarding spe- 
cifically Melkite usages. 

1935 Amanieu, A., "Antimense", DDC (in French, 3 columns). The 

Author devotes about one half of his article to the canonical 
sources for the Byzantine antimension, for which he draws 
heavily on Petrides' articles, and the remaining half to its use 
among Latin clergy, for which he relies upon the decrees of 
Popes Clement VIII and Benedict XIV. 

1947 Dusanic, Svetozar Stephex, "The Antimension as an Object 
of Scientific Study", Church Calendar of the Serbian Orthodox 
Patriarchate for the Year ig4j (in Serbian, 4 quarto pp.). This 
official of the Patriarchal Museum at Belgrade treats of the 
antimension from a fresh point of view : its value as an histor- 
ical source for names and frontiers of eparchies, history of 
ecclesiastical art, history of ecclesiastical and secular architec- 
ture, paleography and philology, history of the textile industry, 
and the history of the liturgy. 

1949 Ayala Lopez, Manuel, "Ara y Antimension", Revista Espanola 
De Der echo Canonico (in Spanish, 14 pp.). The author traces 
the history of the Christian altar, resumes the medieval Greek 
canonical writings, as done before by Petrides, notes the history 
of the S.C.P.F. faculty to celebrate on exsecrated altars, and 
finally gives the origins of, and indults for, the use of the Latin 
Antimensium up until his time. In this latter part he follows 
very closely the writings of Paventi (cfr. Bibliography). 

1951 Raes, Alphonse, "Antimension, Tablit, Tabot", Proche-Orient 
Chretien (in French, 12 pp.). The learned Jesuit Prefect of the 
Vatican library makes a comparison between the Byzantine 
(7 pp.) ; Armenian, Syrian, Maronite, Nestorian, Coptic and 
Ethiopian forms of the portable altar. Appropos the Byzan- 
tine antimension, Father Raes adds little new material to the 
basic work of Petrides ; his information on the other rites, 
however, is very valuable. 

1 1 

1956 Ferrari, Giuseppe, "EIAHETON e ANTIMIN2ION presso i 
Bizantini », Bollettino dellu Badia Greca di Grottaj 'errata (in 
Italian, 7 pp.). This article by an Italo- Greek Protopapas, is 
the first since P^trides to bring to the study of the antimension 
as a canonico-liturgical institution a fresh point of view and 
new material, especially as regards the etymology of the word 
antimension, the distinction between antimension and eileton, 
the necessity of the use of an antimension on even consecrated 
fixed altars in the Byzantine Rite, and the use of the anti- 
mension as a celebret and sign of participation in Apostolic 

1962 Theodorou, Methodios & Panotis, "Antimension", Greek Or- 
thodox Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics (in Greek, 2 columns, 
i plus one page of photographs). The antimension is brieflv 

studied under its liturgical, historical, and iconographic di- 
mensions. Little new material. 

1964 P.E. (sic), "Russian Antimensia", Journal of the Moscow Pa- 
triarchate (in Russian, 12 pp. plus 4 pp. of photographs). The 
author, who signs himself "P.E." and whose name the Moscow 
Patriarchate would not reveal, treats of the antimension from 
a canonico-liturgical and archeological point of view, reviewing 
its history, its relation with the epitaphios and aer, and gives 
valuable notices about the first printed antimensia in Russia, 
their iconography and inscriptions, and some otherwise un- 
available information. 

Analyzing the above works, we may say that there is only one book 
which treats ex professo about the antimension, that of Nikolskij, but 
that his work lacks canonical perspective, is limited mostly to the Rus- 
sian Orthodox Church and was written almost a century ago. Braun's 
two volumes contain much useful information scattered throughout the 
work but it is over forty years old and does not treat of the Latin anti- 
mensium (because it did not exist at that time). Of the other works, the 
outstanding ones are those of Petrides, followed ad litteram at times by 
subsequent authors ; Dusanic* and Ferrari bring new light to the subject; 
Raes and Ayala Lopez contain interesting comparisons. Of the authors 
who actually belong to the Byzantine Catholic Rite, there are only Pe- 
trides, Nabaa' and Ferrari. Much of the material is in Greek and in the 
Slavic languages, not easily accessible ; the only work in English is Ship- 
man's short article of 60 years ago. 

Thus, the present writer hopes that his work may perhaps be of 
some use in 1) that it gathers sources ordinarily inaccessible either be- 
cause of language or location ; 2) it attempts a synthesis of the traditional 

I 2 

and modern discipline regarding both the Byzantine and Latin forms of 
the antimension, and a comparison between these two forms ; 3) and is 
the first lengthy analysis of the yet uncodified canonical legislation con- 
cerning the Latin antimensium and its use. 

IV. Origins of the Christian Altar in relation to the antimension 

Whatever other purposes to which it may be put (in the Byzantine 
Church it is often used as a type of corporal), the antimension is essen- 
tially a portable altar, analogous to the petra sacra in common use in the 
Latin Church, and as such cannot be examined entirely abstracted from 
the context of the concept and history of the christian altar as a whole, 
for which it is the surrogate. 

The antimension, in the present discipline of both the Latin and 
Byzantine Churches, is intrinsically a piece of cloth, blessed (or conse- 
crated) ordinarily by a Bishop, and having attached it to relics of the 
Saints ; it serves as a substitute for an altar, it is an altar. But what 
relation does this piece of cloth have with the more-or-less massive altars 
in the form of solid constructions of masonry and stone, or at least the 
portable slabs of consecrated stone found in the Latin Church today, and 
the similar constructions of stone or wood found in the contemporary 
Byzantine Church ? And, in turn, what do these solidly fixed altars have 
in common with the simple wooden household table used by our Lord in 
the Upper Room when he instituted the Eucharist, and by the Apostles 
and their early successors when they "continued in the Breaking of 
Bread" (Acts 2 : 42) ? We will attempt to show that the christian altar 
was originally a portable altar and that the antimension continues this 
tradition and so is not a mere "legal fiction". Tracing briefly the evolu- 
tion of this paleochristian portable altar into the fixed consecrated altar, 
we propose to demonstrate in this Introduction that the antimension 
conserves, at least in rudimentary fashion, a purpose and symbolism 
parallel to that of the fixed altar and the petra sacra. 

The present-day fixed consecrated altar of the Latin Rite, and to a 
great extent also that of the Byzantine Rite, is the evolutionary product 
of two traditions concerning practical usage together with the influence 
exercised by a particular current of theological symbolism : the two tra- 
ditions originating in practical exigencies we prefer to call the 1) Mensa- 
Domini tradition, and 2) the Altar-Tomb of Martyr tradition ; to these is 
added an important concept or symbolism drawn from the theological 


nature of the Eucharist — its sacrificial dimension (the renewal in an 
unbloody manner of the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross) emphasized 
through the altar as analog of the Old Testament Altar of Holocausts. 
Christ, the Lamb of God, is sacrificed as our Pasch on this altar, and 
hence the Christian altar is more often than not a large stone or masonry 
structure more suited for the exigencies of the Temple ritual of slaugh- 
tering and burning the victim, than reminiscent of the Table of the 
Lord's Supper. 

A. The Mensa-Domini Tradition 

The Mensa-Domini tradition emphasizes the altar as the table of 
the Eucharist Banquet and thus has a purely utilitarian origin : a flat 
surface, usually an ordinary table, convenient for supporting the Eu- 
charist elements of Bread and Wine. 

The first altars were, continuing the example of our Lord at the 
Last Supper, the common types of tables found in a coenaculum ("upper 
room" of an insula or "block of flats") or in a "domus ecclesiae" (more 
pretentious house used as a place for christians to gather for worship). 30 
Both are already indicated in the New Testament. 31 That the first altars 
were ordinary tables can be shown from iconographic and documentary 

In the earliest representations of the altar in christian iconography, 
it is always a banquet table or an ordinary small table. Thus, in a paint- 
ing dating from the beginning of the III century in one of the "Chapels 
of the Sacraments" in the underground cemetery or catacomb of Cal- 
listus, the unknown artist has placed the Icthys, the fish representing 
Christ, together with bread upon a round, threelegged table ("tribadion") 
of the same design so often met with in ancient Roman household fur- 
niture. On one side a man dressed as a philosopher (the Bishop or Priest) 
stretches his hands over the oblation while on the other side of the table 
a female figure stands with hands upraised in prayer (this familiar pose is 
called that of the "orans"). In regard to this scene Hertling and Kirsh- 
baum note : 

30 Cfr. Darsy, Paleo-Christian Archeology (mimeographed Rome, 1961. 
Cours du Centre d'Etudes Saint Louis de France), pp. 38-42 ; P. Testixi. At- 
cheologia Cristiana (Rome : Desclee and Cie., i95 8 )> PP- 549-555- 

31 Coenaculum : Mark 14 : 12-19 ; Luke 22 : 10-14 ; Acts 1 : 12-14 ; Acts 
20 : 7-12. Domus Ecclesiae ■: 1 Cor. 16 : 19 ; Romans 16 : 3-5 ; Colossians 4 : 15 ; 
Philippians 1:2; Acts 20 : 20 ; etc. 


"There can be little doubt that this is a representation of 
the Eucharist... it is also certain that the altar in christian 
antiquity normally had the shape of a table, so much so in 
fact, that the altar is simply called a 'table'. Even today mensa 
('table') is the term used to designate the flat surface of the 
altar." 32 

De Rossi recognized in this scene the very act of the Priest con- 
secrating the Eucharist, with the Orans calling to mind the Church which 
prays before her Spouse present in the consecrated Elements. 33 Testini 
calls the little three-legged table shown in this picture, which he dates 
from between the end of the II century and the beginning of the III cen- 
tury, 34 "the prototype of the sacrificial 'mensa', the typical altar of 
the primitive community." 35 

These tables were not at first a definite piece of liturgical furniture 
specially set aside for this use, but any convenient table. Hertling and 
Kirshbaum interpret some of the statements of the Apostle and of early 
Fathers : 

"Paul indeed speaks of ' the table of devils ' 36 (i Cor. 10.21), 
and Cyprian of ' another altar ' which the schismatics erected. 
Ignatius even uses the Greek word for ' sacrificial altar '. But 
these expressions at best indicate only the Eucharistic sacrifice 
and not a definite piece of Liturgical furniture. One of the very 
reasons why the christians were called atheists was that they 
had neither temples nor altars. Any kind of support on which 
the linen cloth could be spread and the chalice placed sufficed." 37 

Here we may inject a documentary testimony, albeit a negative 
one, showing that the early Christians did not have stone altars of the 
various types so essential a part of pagan worship, thus making the 

32 Hertling and Kirschbaum, The Roman Catacombs and their Martyrs 
(London : Darton, Longman and Todd, i960), p. 239. Cfr. also p. 165. 

33 Cfr. O. Marucchi - H. Vecchierello, Manual of Christian Archeology 
(Paterson, N.J. : St. Anthony Guild Press, 1935), p. 293. 

34 P. Testini, op. cit., p. 212. 

36 "A questi modelli si aggiunge infine quello raffrgurato in una cappella 
cosidetta dei Sacramenti del cimitero di S. Callisto a Roma : un tripode, che per 
la singolarita della forma e l'antichita deH'afTresco si vuole ritenere come il pro 
totipo della mensa sacrificale, l'altare tipico delle primitive communita." P. Te- 
stini, op. cit., p. 580. Cfr. also Testini, Le Catacombe, etc., p. 183. 

36 1 Cor. 10 : 21. 

37 Hertling and Kirschbaum, op. cit., p. 165. 


Christians impious in the eyes of their un-converted brethren : Arnobius 
says in his Adversus Gentes : 

"In hac enim consuetis parte crimen nobis maximum impie- 
tatis adfigere, quod neque sedes sacras venerationis ad omcia 
construamus, non deorum alicuius simulacrum construamus aut 
formam non altaria fabricemus, non aras." 38 

Even an ordinary household bench could be used to celebrate the 
Eucharist as is recorded in the Gnostic Acts of Thomas. 39 

In certain extraordinary cases even a flat surface was entirely 
dispensed with : Bishop Theodoret of Cyrus (d. 458), wishing to offer 
the liturgical sacrifice in the cell of the hermit Maris which was entirely 
bare of furniture, had one of his deacons simply hold the sacred elements 
iri his hands. 40 The priest Lucian, imminently destined for martyrdom 
and spread-eagled to the floor of his cell, celebrated the Eucharist for 
himself and his fellow prisoners by having them place the elements on his 
breast while he said the Great Prayer of Thanksgiving. 41 

To sum up what has been said thus far, it would seem that the 
earliest Christian altars were usually not made especially for this purpose 
but were only any sort of ordinary table (and thus portable). However, 
the transition from this primitive stage to setting aside a particular table 
to be used only for the Eucharistic celebration was but a natural develop- 
ment stemming from the great regard with which the christian commu- 
nity regarded the « tremendous sacrifice », and also perhaps, from the 
veneration for certain table-altars which had been used by the Saints (it 
would be but a further step to set these tables aside by special prayers 
and rites of blessing or consecration in imitation of the Old Testament 

38 "Therefore to this usage is attributed the greatest part of our 'impiety': 
that we do not construct sacred places of veneration (temples) for divine ser- 
vices, neither do we construct any images of gods, nor do we make high places or 
altars." Ibid, pp. 261-262 (and therefore the early christians did not offer the 
Eucharist on massive stone structures or even on special carved stone pedestals, 
(socles), as did the pagans with their sacrifices; it may be opportune to mention 
here that the Jews and even the pagans had the idea of communion with God 
through the partaking of a sacrificial banquet yet they did not ordinarily use 
ordinary tables, as did the Christians, but had elaborate altars. 

39 M. James, The Apocryphal New Testament, Oxford : The Clarendon 
Press, 1924, p. 388. 

40 Theodore of Cyrus, Historia Religionis, 20, P.G. 82 : 1439- 

41 Philostorgius, 2 : 13 ; P.G. 65 : 475. 


and even of the pagans... this concept of hallowing is common to most 
religions). Fixed altars are thought by scholars to date from the V and 
VI centuries 42 . Testini (with Jungmann) affirms that these table-altars 
were all of wood : 

"The moveable altar was without doubt a wooden one ; it 
is supposed that such was the mensa in the dqmus ecclesiae, 
and in the cemeterial basilicas...." 43 

As we shall see in the next section, the cult of the dead and espe- 
cially of the martyrs brought about further developments so that from 
the V century 44 the altar is transformed into a tomb. 

B. Altar-Tomb of Martyr Tradition 

Even when the Eucharist was offered as a cult act in honor of the 
martyrs who joined their sacrifice to the Sacrifice of Christ, it was most 
probably celebrated on a portable table set up for the occasion before 
the martyr's tomb on his « Dies Natalis ». We do not mean to imply 
that the Eucharist was offered in the christian necropoli, especially the 
underground cemeteries (« catacombs »), as a regular procedure; this 
mistaken notion has been explored and rejected by modern scholarship : 
the catacombs were too narrow and dark, lacking adequate ventilation 
and malodorous with the gases of decay, to be used regularly as the place 
of liturgical assembly of the christian community 45 . 

42 Hertling and Kirschbaum, op. cit., p. 165 ; P. Testini, op. cit., pp. 
579-581 ; Marucchi, op. cit., p. 376. 

43 "L'altare mobile era senza dubbio ligneo ; si suppone che tale fosse la 
mensa nelle domus ecclesiae, nella basiliche cimiteriali..." P. Testini, op. cit., 
p. 580. 

44 Ibid. 

45 Cfr. Hertling and Kirschbaum, op. cit., pp. 6-7 : "This romantic 
attitude toward martyrdom was an impediment to sober scientific research. At 
the same time it caused an entirely false picture of the history of the first Chris- 
tian centuries to be drawn. As soon as everything was put in relation with the 
persecutions, the catacombs came to be looked upon as places of refuge for 
Christians in time of persecutions. Consequently all the liturgy of the community 
would have been carried on underground, and not a few Christians would have 
lived there. Such fantasies were augmented by the old legends of the martyrs 
which came to be more and more esteemed after the discovery of the catacombs. 
In the Legend of Susanna it is recorded of Pope Caius that fleeing from persecu- 
tion he remained concealed in the crypts for years. As a matter of fact, however, 
at the time of the historical Pope Caius (283-296) there was no persecution at all." 


We must not fall into the error, either, of identifying all arcosolia 48 
as altars. As Hertling and Kirschbaum remark : 

'•For a long time... it was believed that altars were to be 
found in the cemeteries. These were identified with the so- 
called ' sepolcri a mensa ' or ' arcosolia ', and it was believed 
that Mass was celebrated on the horizontal slab beneath the 
arch of such a tomb. But many of these tombs appear to be 
entirely unsuited for such a purpose since they are much too 
. high or too low, and at times located in very narrow corridors. 
But it is perhaps unnecessary to look for altars since in ancient 
times a fixed altar for the consecration of the Eucharist was not 
essential." 47 

Nor should we mistake as altars the so-called Tavole d'Olei, square 
dr round columns about 3 feet high and with flat tops on which were 
placed oil lamps as votive lights before the tombs of the matyrs, as for 
example beside the tomb of Pope St. Cornelius in the "Crypt of Lucina" 
near the Cemetery of Callistus on the Via Appia. 

After the Edict of Milan in 313, the cult of the matyrs 48 received 
much impetus and the great cemeterial basilicas were built. In con- 
nection with these, the tombs of the martyrs were made more accessible 
to the faithful by means of special stairways and airshafts ("lucenaria") 
and often surrounding tombs were cleared away and underground rooms 
(cubicula) enlarged. The custom arose of celebrating the Eucharist di- 
rectly on the tomb of the martyrs when this could be done. The flat 
stone closing the tomb in a arcosolium was often ideally suited to this as 
it presented a wide flat surface upon which to spread a cloth and to set 
forth the elements of bread and wine. Later, when for still greater con- 
venience or safety from barbarian invasions the bodies of the martyrs 
were transferred to the Urban basilicas, a similar stone slab was placed 

48 "A tomb of more pretentious character than the others and much in 
use was known, from its form or structure, as the arcosolium. Such a tomb 
consisted of an arched niche in the wall beneath which a grave was dug for one 
or more bodies, to be closed later by marble slab laid flat over the opening... The 
term arcosolium, arcisoium, arcusolium is composed of the word arcus, that is, 
the arch formed by the upper part of the tomb, and solium, which refers more 
properly to the huge marble bathing receptables or bathtubs used by the pagans, 
which had the form of a square trunk." Marucchi, op. cit., p. 97. 

47 Hertling and Kirschbaum, op. cit., p. 165. 

48 Hertling and Kirschbaum, op. cit., pp. 72, 77. Testini, Le Catacombe, 
pp. 179-191. 

3 - J. M. Izzo - The Antimension 


over the altar-tomb of the martyr in imitation of the original burial 
site. 49 

In the meantime, the analogy between the Sacrifice 50 of the Lamb 
of God (on the Cross and continued in the Eucharist) and the bloody 
sacrifices of the Old Testament had been emphasized so that beside 
representing the stone slab closing the martyr's tomb, the Christian altar 
at least in the West, 61 became the analog of the great Altar of Holo- 
causts in the Hebrew Ritual. An important difference, however, was that 
the Altar of Burnt Offerings was (at least for practical reasons, e.g. 
smoke) set up outside the Tabernacle and later the Temple while the 
center of attention within the cult edifice was the Shekinah in the Debit 
(the Presence of God within the Holy of Holies) ; pagan altars were also 
usually set up outside the temples and the cella, the small cubicle where 
the deity dwelt, was the center of devotion. 52 In the New Law, however, 
while it is true that spiritually Christ is our Temple not-made-with- 

49 The martyr's sacrifice of his life as witness to his faith has always been 
thought of in relation to the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. Jesus was the first 
Martyr, come to give witness to the truth, and all the other martyrs have followed 
Him giving their lives in witness to Him.. No doubt this thought has been in- 
fluenced by the scene of the Liturgy of the Heavenly Temple as presented in the 
Apocalypse (6: 9-1 1) : "When He (the Lamb) broke the fifth seal, I saw un- 
derneath the altar the souls of all the people who had been killed on account of 
the word of God, for witnessing to it, etc.." Thus the Hebrew Altar of Holo- 
causts, the Cross and Tomb of Christ, and the tomb of the martyr are all seen 
in relation to each other. Cfr. Nicholas Martin Bliley, Altars According to 
the Codex of Canon Law, Washington, D.C. : The Catholic University of America 
Press, 1927, p. 39 ; Yves Congar, The Mystery of The Temple, London : Burns 
& Oates, 1962, pp. 203, 208-213; Amato Pietro Frutaz, 27 culto delle Reliquie 
e loro uso nella consacrazione degli altari, in Notitiae, vol. I (1965), pp. 310-31 1 ; 
P. Testini, Le Catacombe e gli antichi cimiteri cristiani in Roma, Bologna : Cap- 
pelli Editore, 1966, pp. 239-240. 

50 For the Eucharist, as a sacrifice replacing sacrifice of Mosaic Law, see 
St. Irenaeus (d. 202), Adv. Haereses, P.G. 7 : 1023 ; St. Cyprian (d. 258) ; Epi- 
stulae, P.L. 4: 383, 385; St. Caesarius Nazianzenus (d. 368), P.G. 38: 1132. 
Didache (c. 90/100), P.G. 14 : 1-3 ; St. Justin Martyr (d. 163), Dialogs, 41, 
P.G. 6, 564. 

51 Cfr. R. P. E. Mercenier, La Priere des Eglises de Rite Byzantine, tome I, 
Chevetogne, Belgique : Monastere de Chevetogne, 2 e ed., 1947, PP- xx-xxv ; 
A. Raes, Introductio in Liturgiam Orientalem, Rome : Pont. Inst. Orientalium 
Studiorum, 1947, pp. 35-40 ; S. Salaville, An Introduction to the Study of 
Eastern Liturgies, London : Sands and Co., 1938, pp. 133-137. 

52 Cfr. Marucchi, op. cit., p. 350. 




hands and the unique Altar, 63 still the focus of attention and devotion 
in our material cult edifices is the altar. 64 

Today, then, our massive stone altars have evolved in this tradition 
so that they are much more reminiscent of the stone sepulcher, and of 
the stone altar on which victims are burned, than the Mensa-Domini 
(people usually do not have stone tables to eat from). So much so in 
fact, that the Occidental concept of the portable altar is a miniaturized 
version of its ordinary counterpart and as such must be made of stone 
thus hampering its "portability", by reason of its bulk, weight, and the 
danger of fracturing it. The Oriental fixed altar may be of masonry but 
is usually a wooden table. In the Byzantine Rite there are two altars, 
one to prepare the elements of bread and wine (the Altar of Prothesis ; 
Gk. : 7up60£cri<; ; Slav : F[pejino>KeHOHe ; or }KepTBeHHHKT>) , which are later 
brought in procession to the main altar (The Holy Table or Throne ; 
Gk. : 0u(na<mr)piov ; Slav. : IlpecTOjrb). The Chaldeans and Armenians 
also prepare the elements in a special place, the other orientals use the 
main altar itself. In all the Oriental Rites, except the Chaldean Rite, the 
altar is usually separated from the apsidial wall and placed in the middle 
of the sanctuary in such a manner that the ministers may walk around it. 
The Byzantine fixed altar, on the other hand, is ordinarily a wooden table 
(and thus more like the Mensa-Domini) while the portable altar is the 
Antimension, a piece of cloth with the Deposition from the Cross depicted 
on it, and having a small bag of relics sewn to the underside. Even here 
we must be careful not to satisfy ourselves with prima facie evidence : 
we may find important traces of the Tomb of Martyrs-Altar of Holo- 
causts tradition in the wax-mastic 55 a mixture of beeswax with mastic, 
various aromatic substances, 56 and marble dust : this wax-mastic is 

58 John 2 : 19 ; Col. 2:9; cfr. A. G. Martimort, L'Eglise en Prihe (Tournai: 
Desclee et Cie., 1961), pp. 170, 175. 

54 Cfr. A.-M. Roguet, "L'Autel", La Maison Dieu, 63 (i960), p. 107 ; 
Martimort, op. ext., p. 174. We may point out here that the altar, and not the 
tabernacle, is the center of our churches ; in fact, in the larger Basilicas and 
Cathedrals where it is feasible, the Eucharist is not reserved on the main altar 
but in a special side chapel. 

65 Sometimes also called ceromastic (Gk. K^pofjuxartxTj Slav BocKOMacTHXT>) . 
Cfr. F. De Meester, Rituale-Benedizionale Bizantino, Roma : Tip. Leonina 1930, 
pp. 185, 189, 192-193, 206-207, 236-237 ; Nikolskij, Ustav, St. Petersburgh, 
1900. Photo reproduced, Austria ; Graz, i960, p. 800. Cfr. below pp. 66-67. 

56 Wax-mastic is a combination of beeswax, mastic (a brittle resin obtain- 
ed from a small Mediterranean evergreen tree Pistacia leniiscus (popular in 


always used for a practical and also symbolic purpose 57 to coat the relics 
which are placed in a casket on a short pillar under a fixed altar or in a 
small cloth bag sewn to the underside of the portable altar, the antimen- 
sion ; by this inclusion of stone dust in every Byzantine fixed and port- 
able altar, we may have a situation analogous to the Latin practice of 
stone fixed and portable altars : a liturgical avatar of the martyr's tomb 
and Burnt Offering Altar. 

We may note here briefly that the portable altars of the other 
Oriental rites are usually tablets of wood, consecrated with Sacred Chrism 
by a Bishop, but not ordinarily containing relics. 58 

Greece as chewing gum), marble dust, aloes, myrrh, frankincense (olibanum 
tears), and ladanum (a dark-colored, brittle, bitter resin from various species 
of the rockrose, genus Cistus, often spelled labdanum) ; (other aromatic sub- 
stances may be added to perfume the mastic, but the essential ingredients are the 
preceding) . Ibidem. 

57 The practical use of the wax-mastic is as an adhesive cement to join 
the mensa to the stipes, and the small bag of relics to the antimension ; also to 
conglomerate the small particles of relics. Its symbolic use, is according to Sy- 
meon of Thessalonica (d. 1430) as a figure of our Lord's sepulcher, and His love 
and union with us unto death : "and he takes the container, in which is wax- 
mastic together with aromatics, i.e. myrrh, aloes, etc., which represent the 
burial of our Savior, the mensa representing the tomb and stone sealing it ; the 
wax and mastic are necessary as a sort of glue and represent union with Christ 
and His love for us unto death." (De Sacro Templo) P.G. 155, 312. 

88 Cfr. Joseph Braun, Der Christliche Altar in Seiner Geschictlichen Ent~ 
wicklung (2 vols.), Munich : Alte Meister Guenther Koch & Co., 1924, vol. I, 
pp. 517-523 ; J. M. Hanssens & A. Raes, "Une collection des tabots au Musee 
chr6tien de la Bibliotheque Vaticane," Orientalia Christiana Periodica, XVII 
(!955) : 435-45° > Alphonse Raes, "Antimension, Tablit, Tabot," Proche-Orient 
Chretien, vol. I (1951), pp. 65-70 and Pitirim of Volokolamsk, Archbishop, 
"Patriarch Pimen's Trip to Ethiopia", The Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate 
(English Edition), No. 5, 1974, 48-60. For photographs cfr. below, pp. 314-316. 







In the present-day usage of the Byzantine Church, the antimension 
is a rectangular piece of linen or silk, bearing a representation of the 
Deposition or Entombment of Christ ; it is consercrated with Holy Chrism 
by a Bishop, who also affixes relics of Martyrs to it. It is meant to serve 
as a type of corporal when used on a regularly consecrated fixed altar, 
but may also substitute altogether for a fixed consecrated altar and thus 
is a species of portable altar, the analog of the Latin Rite consecrated 
portable altar stone (petra sacra). 

I. The orthography and etymology of the word antimension re- 
main problematical. 1 The most common form is antimension, Gk. 

1 For further discussion of the problem of the orthography and etymology 
of the word antimension in ecclesiastical Greek, Church Slavonic and other 
languages, cfr. for the more ancient witnesses and authorities : Bishop John 
of Kitros, Replies to Constantine Cabasilas, Bishop of Dyrrhachium (the modern 
Durazzo or Durrce in Albania), P.G. 119: 976; Theodore Balsamon, Com- 
mentary on Canon 7 of the Seventh Ecumenical Council (Nicaea II), P.G. 137 : 
912 ; William Beveridge (Beverigius), Notes on Theodore Balsamon's Com- 
mentary on Canon Thirty of the Council of Trullo, P.G. 137 : 613-615 ; Matthew 
Blastares, Syntagma Alphabeticum, P.G. 144 : 1060, 1288 ;James Goar, Eucho- 
logium, p. 521. For more recent authors, cfr. A. Amanieu, "Antimense", DDC, 
vol. I, col. 586 ; Joseph Braun, Der Christliche Altar in seiner geschictlichen 
Entwicklung, 2 vols., Munich : Gtinther Koch, 1924, vol. I, pp. 94~95 ; Proto- 
pas Giuseppe Ferrari, "EIAHTON e ANTIMINSION presso i Bizantini", Bol- 
lettino delta Badia Greca di Grottaj errata, nuova serie, X (1956), 108-109 ; Cirillo 
Korolevskij, "Antimensio, EI", vol. Ill, p. 498 ; K. Lubeck, "Das Antimin- 
sion der Griechen", Der Katholik, IV (1916), 400-402 ; Constantine Nikolski, 
Antimins, pp. 2-12 ; Constantine Nikolskij, Ustav, p. 7 ; H. Leonard Pass, 
"Altar (Christian)", ERE, vol. I, p. 341 ; Sophrone Petrides, "Antimension", 
EO, 193-194 ; Alphonse Raes, "Antimension, Tablit, Tabot", Proche-Orient 
Chritien, I (195 1), 61 ; Andrew Shipman, "Antimensium", CE, vol. I, p. 563. 


t6v avTtfjL7)v<riov, pi. toc avTtfjLTjvdta (to antimension, ta antimensia), in. 
which case the word would be derived probably from the Greek prefix 
avTt (anti- "instead of") and the Latin noun mensa and would signify 
"something used instead of the Holy Table" 2 (perhaps this is a very 
early witness of the use of the word mensa in its technical' sense of altar 
table). Another, though less common, form is antiminsion, Gk. aviifjiv- 
<nov, from the Greek prefix <xvtl and the Greek noun (xtvaos (minsos - 
"plate or basket"), and the meaning would be "something used instead 
of the plate (or basket)", referring either to the plate used by our Lord 
at the Last Supper or to the Eucharistic basket or pyx used by the early 
Christians to contain the Eucharistic bread during the celebration of 
Mass which was soon substituted by a linen cloth (corporal). Petrides 3 
also reports the spellings in Greek avTi[iY)criov (antim^sion), avTifryjaaiov 
(antim^ssion), and avTi[ita(nov (antimfssion) which, however, are rare. 
In the present work the form antimension, Gk. avTifjnrjvmov will be used 
throughout when treating of this object as used in the Byzantine Rite. 

In the Churches of the Byzantine Rite using Church Slavonic 
(Paleoslav or Staroslav), the form Ahtiimhhci (Ahtimhhct>) plural 
Ahthmhhcli (antimins, antiminsi), is used. 4 The Byzantine Melkites 

use, in Arabic, cs — I (andimisi). 6 

In Latin, the spelling antimensium (pi. antimensia) is used, 6 and 
in English the Latin and the transliterated Greek and Slavonic forms are 
found : antimensium, antimension, antimins ; plurals : antimensia, an- 
timins 1 

2 In the Byzantine Rite, the Altar (of Sacrifice) is usually called the "Holy 
Table" or the "Throne". Cfr. Nikolskij, Ustav, pp. 4-7. 
8 Petrides, DACL, loc. cit. 

4 Cfr. Eugene Landisev, Kratkij Objasnitelnij Slovar, St. Petersburg, 
L L. Tuzova, 1891, p. 4 ; Franz Von Miklosich, Lexicon Paleoslovenico-Graeco- 
Latinum, emendatum auctum, Neudruck der Ausgabe Wien 1 862-1 865, Scientia 
Verlag Aalen (Herstellung : Fotokop Reprogranscher Betraib GmbH, Darm- 
stadt), 1963, p. 6 where he also reports the forms Nikolskij, Ustav, pp. 7-8 ; 
Slu&ebnik, Rome: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1956, pp. 130, 188. 

6 Cfr. F. E. Brightman, Liturgies Eastern and Western, vol. I, Eastern 
Liturgies, Oxford : Clarendon Press, 1896, p. 569 ; Phillip Nabaa', "The Anti- 
mension in the Byzantine Church" (in Arabic), Al-Massarat, i934» P- 28 7- 

6 The Latin spelling antimensium is often, but not always, used to in- 
dicate the Antimensium Latinum, the Latin Rite antimension, which will be 
discussed below, pp. 183-186. 

7 Cfr. T. Lincoln Bouscaren, The Canon Law Digest, vol. IV, Milwaukee: 


2. The altar in the Byzantine tradition is considered the Throve 
of the Most High, and thus its surrogate, the antimension, is by assimi- 
lation sometimes called 0p6vo<; (thrOnos) in Greek, 8 and Thronus in 
Latin 9 documents. We shall see that the antimension supplies not only 
for the consecration of the altar but also of the whole church or oratory, 10 
and hence it is sometimes termed the (Kathierosis), "the 
consecration » (i.e. "that which supplies for the consecration of the altar 
and sacred place"). 11 

3. The antimension is sometimes improperly called "the Greek Cor- 
poral" ; however, we shall see that the true corporal of the Byzantir.e 
Rite is the ElXyjtov (eil6ton - "roll or wrapping") even though the 
eileton in modern practice is used under the antimension. 12 The anti- 
mension and eileton are not infrequently confused or used as synonyms. 1 * 


The Bruce Publishing Co., 1958, pp. 266-268 ; Isabel Florence Hapgood, 
Service Book of the Holy Orthodox Apostolic Church, 3rd edition, New York ; 
Syrian Antiochian Orthodox Diocese of New York and All North America, 195°. 
pp. xxix-xxx, and passim : Severien Salaville, An Introduction to the Study 
of Eastern Liturgies (adapted from the French by John M. T. Barton), London : 
Sands & Co. Ltd., 1938, pp. 152-155 ; Shipman, loc. cit. ; D. Sokolof, A Manual 
of the Orthodox Church's Divine Services, New York and Albany ; Wynkoop 
Hallenbeck Crawford Co., 1899, pp. 10-11. 

8 St. Symeon of Thessalonica, Concerning the Hallowing of the Holy 
Temple, P.G. 155: 334; Lubeck, op. cit., p. 410; Salaville, op. cit., p. 154, 
and note 1, p. 2. 

9 Pope Benedict XIV, in his Constitution Etsi Pastoralis VI, XVII-XIX 
(CIC Fontes, vol. I, p. 744) uses this term. Cfr. also Placidus De Meester, 
Rituale-Benedizionale Bizantino, Roma : Tipografia Leonina, 193°. P l6 4- cfr 
below, pp. 126, 153. 

10 Cfr. below, pp. 47-48. 

11 Cfr. Ferrari, op. cit., p. 105 ; Salaville, op. cit., p. 154 ; Petrides, EO, 
p. 198. 

12 Cfr. below, pp. 1 10-124. 

13 Cfr. Ferrari, op. cit., pp. 105-111 ; G. W. H. Lampe, A Patristic Greek 
Lexicon, Oxford : Clarendon Press, 1961, fascicle I (1961), P- 416 : Raes, op. 
cit., pp. 59, 64, 70, also below, pp. no ff. The Syrians, Malabarese Rite Christians, 
and the Chaldeans use a consecrated wooden (occasionally stone) tablet (called 
variously Tablitho, Tablith, Tablitha, Madhb'ho) in their fixed altars and as a 
portable altar. To this they add a corporal which they call an antimension (andi- 
misi). Cfr. Cfr. H. W. Codrington, Studies of the Syrian Liturgies, London : 
Geo. E. J. Coldwell, Ltd., 1952 (Reprinted from Eastern Churches Quarterly. 



1. We have seen 1 that the paleochristian altar was originally a 
portable one used in private homes and hidden places. However, after 
the' Emperor Constantine granted legitimate civil status and freedom in 
the Roman Empire to the Church in 313 A.D., the Domus Ecclesiae fell 
more and more into disuse and other edifices were built specifically for 
the purpose of worship in which the altar was fixed, immoveable. Con- 
stantine himself ordered the construction of great Basilicas over the tomb 
of the Apostles Peter and Paul, the Martyrs, and other Holy Places. 
Even if in the beginning in some of these churches a portable altar may 
have continued to be used, it soon became the custom to enclose the 
tomb of the Martyr in the fixed high altar so that the Holy Mysteries 
could be celebrated directly over the tomb. 2 

2. At the same time, the portable altar was retained for missionaries, 
desert recluses, and the military. Thus the historians Sozomen, Eusebius 
of Caesarea, and Socrates mention that the Emperor Constantine had the 
Holy Sacrifice celebrated for his soldiers in the field under a tent. 23 Soon 
each Legion had its own church-tent with liturgical furnishings and with 
attendant Priests and Deacons. 3 

1 pp. 19-34, above. 

2 Cfr. Ludwig Hertling, s.j. and Engelbert Kirschbaum, s.j.. The 
Roman Catacombs and Their Martyrs (translated by M. Joseph Castelloe, s.j. ; 
London : Darton, Longman & Todd, i960), pp. 165-166, 261-262 ; Pasqualb 
Testini, Archeologia Christiana, (Rome : Desclee & Co., 1958), pp. 578-581 ; 
Pasquale Testini, Le Catacombe e gli Antichimi Cimiteri Cristiani in Roma, 
Rome : Cappelli Editore, 1966, p. 183. 

2a Eusebius, Be Vita Constantini, II, cc. 12, 14, P.G. 20 : 989-992 ; So- 
crates Historia Ecclesiastica, I, c. 18, P.G. 67 : 123-14 ; Sozomen, Historia Ec- 
clesiastica, I, c. 8, P.G. 67 : 880-881. See also Shipman, op. ext., pp. 563-564. 

3 Sozomen, loc. cit. 


3. It seems that these first portable altars used in this manner were 
complete (and thus fairly large) tables. We read in an encomium on 
St. Marcian, which can be dated around 700 A.D., 4 that Bishop Theo- 
dore of Syracuse placed a Mystic Table, which he calls an antimension, 
in the mouth of a cave and celebrated the Holy Mysteries on it to exor- 
cise the evil spirits which were seen and heard there and which disturbed 
the worshippers at the nearby tomb of St. Marcian. 5 A Life of St. Willi- 
bald, who made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 725 A.D., contains the 
Saint's description of the Basilica at Bethlehem, in which he tells that 
there were two altars; the larger one was kept in the upper Basilica, 
while the smaller one was carried down to the grotto of the Nativity for 
the celebration of the Divine Liturgy and then removed after the 
services. 6 

4. In regard to the antimension-portable altar as a small and con- 
veniently transported object which could be put on a table or any sui- 
table flat surface, Fr. Cyril Korolevsky 7 opts for its origin around the 
VI c. in Syria, where the Jacobites and Syrian Monophysites were per- 
secuted by both the civil power and the official Church and were con- 
strained to celebrate in hidden places and private homes. 8 Here the 
antimension would be a consecrated wooden tablet or linen cloth. 9 

5. In regard to this institute in the Byzantine Church, in a letter 
written around the year 809 by St. Theodore the Studite (d. 826), Abbot 
of the great monastery of Studios at Constantinople, to his disciple and 
spiritual son Naukratios, a matter germane to our study is treated. 
Theodore is replying to some doubts posed by Naukratios, specifically, 
Naukratios' fourth question : 

4 Cfr. Agostino Amore, San Marciano di Siracusa, Studio Archeologico- 
agiografico, Citta del Vaticano : Tipografia Poliglotta Vaticana (Spicilegium 
Pontificii Athenaei Antoniani, no. 12), pp. 27-32, 75-91, and passim. 

5 Encomium of St. Marcian, n. 11, AA.SS. 14 junii ; III, 281 ff. 

6 Vita S. Willibaldi, c. 4, M.G.SS. XV, 98. 

7 Cyril Korolevskij, "Antimension", Enciclopedia Italiana (Treccani), 
vol. Ill, p. 498. 

8 Cfr. Aziz S. Atiya, A History of Eastern Christianity, London : Methuen 
& Co., 1968, pp. 169-199. 

9 Cfr. Raes, op. cit., 59-60. They still use consecrated wooden tablets as 
portable altars today. Confer above, pp. 22, 25, and below, pp. 33, 34. 


Naukratios : "If there be a church in which the celebrant 
commemorates a heretic 10 and the orthodox Priest possesses 
a consecrated altar in the form of a wooden plank or a cloth, 11 
is it expedient for him to place this altar in the church, at a 
time when the aforesaid celebrant is not present, and to there 
sacrifice in the correct (orthodox) manner ? " M 

Theodore : "It is not expedient ; rather, out of necessity, he 
should sacrifice in an ordinary home, choosing however, a more 
cleanly part of the home." 13 

Theodore does not use the word antimension specifically, but there 
can be no doubt that he is speaking about it or its very similar ancestor. 
Naukratios uses the word ©uaiocaxYjpiov (thysiasterion - "altar") to 
name the consecrated plank or cloth used as a portable altar, and it is 
precisely this designation that is later written or printed on the antimen- 
sion, and usually not merely the word antimension, itself. 14 

In the same vein, the Byzantine Co-Emperors Michael n Balbos 
and Theophilus in a letter to the "Emperor of the Romans" Louis the 
Pious on April io, 824, in which they expose their iconoclastic views about 
not venerating images, after complaining of many alleged mal-practices 
of the iconophile clergy write : "And some of them, despising the chur- 
ches, 15 use tablet-ikons as altars and celebrate the Holy Sacrifice in 
common homes." 16 Here it is a question of celebrating, it seems, upon 
the wooden tablets on which ikons are normally painted. 17 

6. Whatever we may say about the primitive origin of the antimen- 
sion as a small portable object, it remains a fact that it was born of ne- 

10 I.e. his inconoclastic Bishop or Superior. 

11 ©uoiaorrjpiov xaffyyiaauivov £v otvS6vi 'y) ev oavloi 

12 St. Theodore the Studite, Letters, P.G. 99 : 1056. 

13 Ibidem. 

14 Cfr. Raes, op. cit., p. 60. 

15 I.e. the churches which the iconoclasts had defiled by removing the 
relics and images and celebrating in them, or which the iconoclasts had con- 
secrated without relics and were using. 

16 Mansi, torn. XIV, col. 420 : "Nonnulli vero, spreta ecclesia, in com- 
munibus domibus tabulis imaginum pro altariis utebantur et super eas sacrum 
ministerium celebrabant." 

17 Ikons are usually painted on tablets or slabs of wood. Cfr. Alberto 
M. Amann, La Pittura Sacra Bizantina, Rome : Pontificium Institutum Orien- 
talium Studiorum, 1957, passim. Leonid Ouspensky and Vladimir Lossky. 
The Meaning of Icons, Boston : Boston Book & Art Shop, Inc., 1969, pp. 53~55> 


cessity in troubled times, 18 and was soon adopted by the Byzantine 
Church where it was widely diffused in the turmoil of the Iconoclastic 
struggles of the VIII and IX centuries and their aftermath. 19 

The antimension was the answer to two problems: the first was that 
the orthodox christians were barred from their churches by the iconoclasts 
and had to resort to celebrating the Holy Mysteries in private homes 
and other places ; 20 for this they had to have some sort of portable altar 
to sanctify the place and to follow the ancient tradition of celebrating 
only on a consecrated altar. 21 Even when there was no active persecu- 
tion, they did not want to celebrate in churches together with heretical 
ministers or in churches which had been defiled by them. 22 The second 
problem concerned the confusion resulting from the long-drawn-out 
struggles : many altars had been consecrated without relics by Iconoclast 
Bishops 23 or the presence of relics and canonical consecration remained 
doubtful. At the same time, the authentic christians were anxious to 
comply with the prescriptions of the Second Council of Nicea (787 A.D.), 
in which the veneration of images and of relics was upheld, and parti- 
cularly its seventh canon which decreed : 

passim ; Fotis Kontoglous, Byzantine Iconography, {trans. C. Cavarnos), Bel- 
mont, Massachusetts : Institute for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, 1956, 

18 Cfr. Ferrari, op. ext., pp. 109-110, where he says : "E quando, nel 
periodo iconoclastico, gli eretici gettarono via da alcune Chiese le Reliquie, si 
moltiplicarono, un po' per reazione, un po' per necessita, gli ED.Tjxdt (i.e. anti- 
mensia - ed.) con Reliquie cucite." (And when during the Iconoclastic period, 
the heretics cast the relics out from some churches, eilita (i.e. antimensia - ed.) 
with relics sewn to them were multiplied, a bit by way of reaction, a bit out of 
necessity.") Korolevskij, loc. cit. ; Lazar Mirkovic, Pravoslavna Liturgika, 
(2 vols.), Sremski Karlovici : (Serbska Manastirska Shtamparija) 1918, 1920, 
vol. I, p. 119; Nikolsky, Ustav, p. 7. 

19 Koroloveskij, loc. cit. ; Jules Pargoire, L'Eglise byzantine de 52 7 a 
847, Paris : J. Gabalda & Cie., 1905, p. 340 ; Shipman, op. cit., p. 563. 

20 Cfr. St. Theodore Studite, loc. cit. 

21 Cfr. Nicholas Martin Bliley, Altars According to the Code of Canon 
Law, Washington D.C. : The Catholic University, of America Press, 1927, pp. 
3o-34. 75. 103. 

22 St. Theodore Studite, loc. cit. ; Theodore Balsamon, Commentary 
on Canon 7 of the Seventh Ecumenical Council (Nicea II), loc. cit. 

23 It must be remembered that Iconoclastic fury was directed not only 
against the veneration of images, but also against the honoring of relics. Cfr. 
Balsamon, loc. cit. ; Ferrari, loc. cit., and below pp. 46 ff. and p. 117. 


"If any church has been consecreated without the sacred 
relics of Martyrs, relics are now to be deposited therein with 
the customary prayers. A Bishop who henceforward conse- 
creates a church without holy relics is to be deposed as a trans- 
gressor of ecclesiastical Tradition." 24 

To obviate all difficulties, antimensia, since they had been properly 
consecrated and contained relics of Martyrs, were used on all altars 
which were uncanonical or at least suspect as such. 25 

7. To sum up : the word antimension in the sense of a portable altar 
is first met with in the VIII c. in the Encomium on St. Marcian of Sy- 
racuse, but here it refers to a whole (wooden) table which can be carried 
about. The concept of a consecrated cloth is first met with in the written 
sources with St. Theodore the Studite at the beginning of the IX century 
but without it being referred to by the name antimension. The II Council 
of Nicea in the VIII c. ordained that all churches must be consecrated 
with relics and the antimension was used to supply in case of deficiency. 
After this time, the sources begin to proliferate, and the name antimen- 
sion becomes inseparably associated with a piece of cloth consecrated by 
a Bishop and containing relics, used as a portable altar. 26 It now be- 
comes common and this institute of the Byzantine Church is treated by 
early Greek canonical commentators 27 such as St. Nicephoros the Con- 

24 For Greek text of this Canon see : Conciliorum Oecumenorum Decreta 
(Edit. Centro di Documentazione, Istituto per le Scienze Religiose - Bologna ; 
curantibus Josepho Alberigo, Perikle-P. Joannou, Claudio Leonardi, Paolo 
Prodi ; consultante Huberto Jedin ; Freiburg im Breisgau : Herder, 1962), pp. 
120-121 ; also P.G. 137 : 909-912. For the Latin text see Johannes Domimicus 
Mansi, Sacrorum Conciliorum Nova et Amplissima Collectio, vol. XIII (Florence, 
1767), p. 751 ; also P.G. 137 : 910-911. For English text cfr. : D. Cummings. 
The Rudder (Pedalion), Chicago : The Orthodox Christian Educational Society. 
1957, P- 438 ; also : George Mastrantonis, Ancient Epitome of the Sacred Ca- 
nons of the Eastern Orthodox Church, St. Louis, Mo. : Ologos, no date, p. 18. 
Cfr. also CICO Fonti (Serie I), fascicolo IX, torn. I, part. I, pp. 260-261, which 
contains Greek, Latin and French texts. 

25 Cfr. Shipmann, op. cit., pp. 563-564. Originally as a safety measure, 
then an abuse, and finally as a universal custom, the antimension came to be 
used on all altars, even properly and certainly consecrated fixed altars. Cfr. 
below, pp. n8i 

26 Cfr. below, pp. 105-109. 

a7 It is outside the scope of the present work to discuss in greater detail 
the history of the canonical sources of this institute (the antimension) ; for 
further information about the source and biography of the canonical commen- 


fessor, Patriarch of Constantinople (d. 828) ; Theodore Balsamon (d. ca. 
1196) ; Archbishop John of Kitros (near Thessalonica) (XIII c.) ; Pa- 
triarch Manuel of Constantinople (XIII c.) ; Matthew Blastares (wrote 
Syntagma alphabeticum in 1335) ; Nilos Kerameos, Patriarch of Con- 
stantinople (1380-1388) ; Matthew, Patriarch of Constantinople (ca. 
1400); and St. Symeon of Thessalonica (Saloniki) (d. 1429). 

tators, cfr. CICO Fonti, serie II, fascicolo V : Isidorus Croce, Textus Selecti ex 
operibus Commentatorum Byzantinorum Iuris Ecclesiastici, pp. 1-35. Also cfr. 
Amanieu, DDC, col. 586 ff. ; Braun, op. cit., I, pp. 92-94 ; Carolus De Clercq, 
Fontes Iuridici Ecclesiarum Orientalium, Rome : Pont. Institutum Orientalium 
Studiorum, 1967, passim ; Lubeck, op. cit., pp. 402 ff. ; Petrides, DACL, col. 
2320 ff. ; Petrideo, EO, pp. 194 ff. ; Raes, op. cit., pp. 60 ff. 



We have seen that originally the antimension consisted of an entire 
table of wood or of metal, a movable or portable altar on a rather large 
scale, probably furnished with legs, etc. 1 When it became a small and 
truly portable object, a specific form came into common use in the By- 
zantine Church. It is the origin and development of this form which we 
shall now undertake to study, under its main characteristics of the ma- 
terial (and size) used for the portable altar, its ornamentation, and the 
relics of saints attached to it. 

I. Material and Dimensions 

i. Even when the antimension had become reduced in size to an 
easily portable object, it could still be either a wooden tablet or a piece 
of cloth, 2 but soon the more convenient cloth antimension became almost 
exclusively predominant. Father Braun believes that some few wooden 
antimensions were used until the XIV c. although they became very 
unusual after that time. 3 Petrides says : "The Byzantines at first made 
use indifferently of a plank or a piece of cloth, but then they kept only 
this latter type of portable altar." 4 The cause for this change would, of 

1 Cfr. above, p. 42 ff. ; also Braun, op. cit., vol. I, 91-95. 522. 

2 Cfr. St. Theodore Studtte, loc. cit. ; Braun, op. cit., I, p. 522 sees 
this as the first definite mention of cloth antimensions. 

3 Braun, loc. cit. "Holzerne Portatilien weren hiernach zwar noch im 14. 
Jahrhundert im griechischen Ritus nicht ganz ausser Gebraucht, doch waren 
sie jedenfalls schon weinigstens seit dem 11. Jahrhundert nicht mehr das Ge- 

4 Petrides, DACL, col. 2319 : "Les Byzantines se sont d'abord servis 

4 - J. M. Izzo - The Antimension 


course, be the greater facility of carrying a folded or rolled up cloth, 
rather than a somewhat bulky wooden board. Father Salaville remarks 
a propos : "It (the cloth antimension) is, in fact, more portable than our 
Latin altar-stones, or than the wooden boards designed for the same 
purpose and still in use in the other Eastern Rites." 5 Petrovskij notes 
that very exceptionally antimensia were made of paper, 6 but this is spe- 
cifically forbidden in modern times ; thus Archpriest Bulgakov : 

It (the antimension) must not be made from writing paper ; 
'he who dares to celebrate on such an antimension sins seriously, 
as one who despises the Divine Mysteries, and is liable to sus- 
pension and excommunication on the part of the ecclesiastical 
authorities...' If such an antimension is found, it must be brought 
to the bishop and a suitable new one requested. 7 

St. Symeon of Thessalonica tells us that the cloth used for the 
antimension is usually linen because linen comes from the earth, just 
as the Savior's tomb was of the earth ; 8 as we shall see below, the anti- 
mension also symbolizes the burial shroud of Christ. In modern times, 

indiff Bremen t d'une planche ou d'une piece d'etoffe, puis n'ont garde que cette 
derniere sorte d'autel portatif." 

5 Salaville, op. ext., p. 153 ; cfr. also Raes, op. cit., pp. 70, 70. (We might 
note at this point that the Byzantine fixed altar, whether consecrated or used 
with an antimension, is usually made of wood. Cfr. Braun, op. cit., I, pp. 115- 
117; also below, p. 110. The author has seen in the Museum attached to 
the residence of the Serbian Orthodox Patriarch in Belgrade, an antimension 
cosisting of a design and words inscribed in black ink on white paper, affixed 
to a wooden board resembling a bread cutting board even as to handle and hole 
for hanging (see photograph in Appendix II, p. 340). I was not able to ascetain 
whether or not there were relics embedded in the board underneath the paper, 
as there was no noticeable protrusion. The inscription, translated from the Old 
Slavonic, is as follows : "This altar of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ 
is consecrated for the Temple of our Holy Father Nicholas, Archbishop and 
Wonderworker of Myra, under the rule of the illustrious Roman Emperor and 
King of Hungary Leopold II, through the sacerdotal action of His Excellency 
the Archbishop of Karlovici and of all the Imperial and Royal domains of the 
Serbian People and of Valacho, the Metropolitan, Lord Stephen of Stratomirovic, 
in the year 1791, the month of December, on the sixth day, at Karlovici." 

6 A. Petrovskij, "Antimins", Pravoslavskaja Enciklopedia, vol. I, col. 803. 

7 C. V. Bulgakov, Nastoljnaja Kniga dlja Svjascenno-Cerkovno-Sluiitelej , 
Harkov : Tipografija Gubernskago Pravinienija, 1900 (photomechanically re- 
produced Graz, Austria : Akademischen Druck - u. Verhagsanstalt, 1965), p. 709. 

* P.G. 155 : 333- 


canonical and liturgical sources specify either linen or silk ; 9 thus an 
Ukaz (decree) of the Holy Synod of Moscow in 1862 specified for the 
Russian Orthodox Church that the antimension be made either from 
linen or silk. 10 Of the antimensia which the present writer has examined 
in the churches and museums of southern Italy, Yugoslavia, Greece, the 
Middle East, Russia, and Ukraine, and the United States of America, 
the medieval examples have been almost exclusively of linen ; while 
among the modern antimensia a distinction may be made : in the Greek 
Byzantine Church linen antimensia predominate, while in the Russian 
Byzantine Church the use of silk (or satin or taffeta) is preponderant 
(even though silk is less durable). 11 . 

2. The Byzantine fixed altar is rectangular in shape ; for as Arch- 
priest Constantine Nikolskij says : 

"It is square (four-cornered) because the sacrifice that 
takes place on it is meant for the four corners of the world, and 
the four corners of the world come to the altar to partake of 
the Body and Blood of Christ." 12 

Whether or not this is probably a post-factum argument we leave 
to the liturgical symbolists ; the fact is that the modern fixed altar for 
practical or symbolic purposes is always rectangular (round altars were 
not unknown in the early Byzantine East). 13 It is not surprising to find 
that the surrogate of the fixed altar, the antimension, is always a rectan- 

9 Cfr. Braun, op. cit., I, p. 519 ; Svet. St. DusankS, "Antimins kao Naucni 
Objekat" ; Crkva Kalendar Srpske Pravoslavnje Patrijarsije za Prostu ig4y Godinu, 
Belgrade : Stamparija "Radjenkovid", 1947, p. 60 ; Lazar Murkovic, Pra- 
voslavna Liturgika, 2 vols., Sremski Karlovci : 1918, vol. I, p. 119 ; Petrides, EO, 
P. 193- 

10 Cfr. Petrovskij, loc. cit., and Petrides, DIC, I, col. 1389. These two 
authors disagree, the former claiming that antimensia are more often made of 
linen, while the latter opts for silk ; I believe the solution to this difficulty is 
between the usages of medieval and modern times, and between the various 
branches of the Byzantine Rite. Cfr. also P.E. (sic), "Russkije Antiminsi", 
Zurnal Moskovskoj Patriarkhii, 1964, no. 2, pp. 70-72 ; Miroslav Marusyn, 
Ordinum Pontificalium in Euchologio Kiovensi saec. XVI expositio, Rome: Edi- 
tiones Catholicae Universitatis Ucrainorum S. Clementis Papae, 1966, p. 65. 

11 Silk has more tendency to crack when folded and unfolded in daily 
use than linen. Cfr. below, p. 81. 

12 Nikolskij, Ustav, p. 5. 

13 Cfr. Braun, op. cit., I, pp. 245-249, pp. 187-191. 


gular piece of cloth, either square or oblong, whose dimensions have 
varied greatly during various periods of history. Some antimensia were 
large enough to cover the whole mensa of the fixed altar and Cottas Ve- 
netia mentions an antimension which measured 1.5 meters (ca. five feet) 
on each side. 14 Naturally, the inner and outer limits of its dimensions 
are found in the minimum size necessary to conveniently place thereon 
both the chalice and the diskos (paten) 15 during the Divine Liturgy (al- 
lowing a safety margin for any particles of the Eucharist which may fall 
upon the antimension when it is used as the analog of the Roman cor- 
poral), and the maximum size within which the antimension can be 
conveniently carried when folded (when not in use it is folded four times, 
like the Roman corporal) 16 or spread out on the altar when in use in 
such a manner that it will not interfere with the Artophorion (Taber- 
nacle), hand-cross, and other liturgical furnishings. 17 

3. In medieval times, it seems that there were sometimes diminutive 
altar cloths sewn onto the antimension, 18 and often also four small pieces 

14 Cottas Venetia, Contribution a I'Etude de quelques Tissus Liturgiques, 
"Atti del V Congresso Internazionale di Studi Bizantini", Roma, 1936 (Vol. VI 
di Studi Bizantini e Neoellenici); torn. II, Roma : Tipografia dello Stato, 1940, 
p. 97. Cfr. also our chart "Some Modern Printed Antimensia Compared", p. 307, 
on which the largest modern antimension recorded there is 27 3/4 inches by 
183/4 inches (69.4 cm x 46.9 cm) - the smallest is 13 1/2 inches by 13 1/2 
inches (33.8 cm x 33.8 cm). 

15 Cfr. P.E., loc. cit. ; Nikolskij, Antimins, pp. 112-113. The diskos is 
the paten of the Byzantine rite ; it is usually furnished with a rim or lip to 
prevent any crumbs of the Eucharistic Bread from falling off, and customarily 
(especially among the Orthodox), has a foot or pedestal lower than, but similar 
to, that of the Chalice. Cfr. Donald Attwater, The Christian Churches of the 
East, 2 vols., vol. I, Churches in Communion with Rome, Milwaukee : The Bruce 
Publishing Co., 1961, pp. 33 (facing), 42 ; Archbishop Benjamin, Novaja Skrizal, 
St. Petersburg : I. L. Tuzova, 1908, pp. 20, 161, 163, 172, 242 ; Isabel Florence 
Hapgood, Service Book of the Holy Orthodox-Catholic Apostolic Church (3rd 
revised edition), New York, Syrian Antiochian Orthodox Diocese of New York 
and All North America, 1956, p. xxi ; Nikolaus Liesel and Tibor Makula, 
The Eucharistic Liturgies of the Eastern Churches, Collegeville : The Liturgical 
Press, 1963, pp. 194 ff., 226 ff. ; Salaville, op. cit., pp. 113 (facing), 141-142. 

16 Cfr. Bulgakov, op. cit., pp. 815, 826, who gives this order for folding : 
top, bottom, left, right. 

17 Cfr. Archbishop Benjamin, op. cit., pp. 17-27. 

18 Cfr. St. Symeon of Thessalonica, op. cit., P.G. 155 : 333 ; Braun, 
op. cit., I, p. 523 ; Lubeck, op. cit., p. 408 ; Pedalion (Cummings), p. 438 ; Pe- 
trides, DTC, I, col. 1389; Salaville, op cit., p. 152, 155. 


of cloth (hyphasmata) bearing the representations or names of the four 
Evangelists were sewn onto the corners of the antimension identical to 
those affixed both then and now to the corners of the fixed consecrated 
altar ; 19 these usages have since disappeared in regard to the antimen- 
sion. 20 

4. In modern practice, among the Orthodox and those Catholics who 
follow the more traditional usages of the Byzantine Rite, the antimen- 
sion is a single piece of cloth, usually hemmed at least on those sides 
where there is no selvage; among other Byzantine Rite Catholics, 21 the 
antimension usually has a lining of colored silk or linen sewn onto its 
reverse side. This lining is probably meant to keep the antimension 
from wearing out too quickly ; 22 perhaps it is also meant to be a species 
of eileton. 23 

II. Ornamentation and Inscriptions 

The first antimensions were very jejune as to decoration, and have 
varied in various periods of history as we shall see below, but the main 
inscriptions have been traditional from the very beginning. 

1. The first antimensions were very simple as to ornamentation, 
and all painted or drawn by hand, mostly in black ink on white cloth. 24 
Pauline Johnstone says : 

19 Cfr. St. Symeon of Thessalonica, op. ext., pp. 134, 153. Also Amanieu, 
op. ext., col. 587 ; Goar, op. cit., p. 181 ; Petrides, loc. cit., Ignace Ephrem II 
Rahmani, Les Liturgies Orientales et Occidentales, Beirut : Imprimerie Patriar- 
chate Syrienne, 1929, p. 50. 

20 Father Salaville, op. cit., p. 155 ; would like to see some of these 
practices restored : "And, when they celebrate outside a church, why should 
they not have cloths sewn on to the antimension, as Simeon of Thessalonica 
recommends ?" ; the present writer believes that this should not be done unless 
it becomes general practice among the Orthodox, which it is not at the present. 
Cfr. below, p. 109. As a matter of fact, the pictures, symbols, or names of the 
Evangelists are usually printed on the corners of the modern antimension. 

21 E.g. the Ukrainians, Ruthenians and some Melkites ; cfr. our chart 
Some Modern Printed Antimensia Compared, p. 427. 

22 Cfr. Salaville, op. cit., p. 153. 

23 Cfr. below, pp. 84, 111-114. 

24 P.E., op. cit., no. 2, pp. 75-78, no. 3, pp. 62-65; Nikolskij, Antimins, 


"Most writers have considered that the medieval antimension 
was embroidered, but Stefanescu has put forward the theory 
that this was never so, and it was always painted or printed. 
This seems reasonable when it is considered that the raised em- 
broidery could overturn the Chalice or catch falling crumbs of 
the Host in its threads. The modern antimension is undoubtedly 
always printed. 25 

The ornamentation usually consisted principally of a cross, of the 
type called "nikaphorion," 26 that is, the cross of victory with the lance 
and the sponge leaning upon it, and especially with the inscription IC XC 
NIKA, 27 and often standing on a stylistic representation of the hill of 
Golgotha ; the Greeks used the Greek or Latin cross, while the Slavs 
used especially the three-barred cross. 28 

2. In the late middle ages, an image of the dead Body of Christ 
(the Amnos) 29 begins to appear on the antimension; in the XVI and XVII 

plates at end of book ; Raes, op. ext., p. 62 ; Evangelistos Theodorou, "Anti- 
mension" ; Threskeutike kai Ethnike Enkyklopaideia, tomos 2, pp. 870-871 ; 
V6n6tia, op. cit., pp. 87-102 ; and below, pp. 328 rT. 

26 Cfr. Pauline Johnstone, The Byzantine Tradition in Church Embroi- 
dery, London : Alec Tiranti, Ltd., 1967, p. 24; I. D. Stefanescu, "Autels, tissus 
et broderies liturgiques", Analecta Universitatea Din Bucaresti, Institutum de 
Istoria Artei, II, 1944, p. 113. 

26 I.e. "Victory-bearing" ; cfr. P.E., op. cit., no. 2, pp. 76-77 ; Nikolskij, 
op. cit., plates at end of book ; Venetia, op. ext., p. 97. Below pp. 328 ff. 

27 I.E. "Jesus Christ Conquers", or "Jesus Christ Victorious", according 
to the way one interprets the Byzantine monogram fc" (Jesus) xc (Christ) NIKA 
(conquers) ; in ecclesiastical Greek, the letter sigma (s) is not usually 2 but C. 
This monogram has always enjoyed great popularity among the Byzantines and 
is to be found carved in their churches ; woven into their textiles, and stamped 
onto their "prosphora" or altar-breads (for that matter it is sometimes found on 
Latin Hosts). The Slavs have taken over the same monogram but using Cyrillic 
letters, and using either xc f° r ^ e Holy Name, or Jjjg x~p£- The letters 
NH are sometimes joined thus : ^ so that we may have 

For illustrations of these and interpretation of the 3-barred Cross, cfr. : Liturgical 
Catechism on the Sacrifice of the Divine Liturgy, Pittsburgh : St. Cyril and Me- 
thodius Seminary Press, 1954, P- 9 ! see a ^ so : Donald Attwater, A Catholic 
Dictionary, 3rd ed., New York : The MacMillan Co., 1961, pp. 129-130 ; Raes, 
op. cit., pp. 62-63. 

Amnos |'Au.v6c) is the Greek word for Lamb Slavonic: Agnec (Agnetz). 

Nl|KA d£h NHlKd 

28 Greek Cross : ; Latin Cross : — ; 3-barred Slavic cross : 


centuries, the whole burial scene or the Deposition from the Cross (the 
Threne) appears on the epitaphios 30 and also on the antimension ; 31 
the writer in lurnal Moskovskoj Patriarkhti, who goes under the initials 
"P. E." gives what he calls the "canonical foundation" for placing the 
icon of the Deposition of Christ on the antimension : Canon 83 of the 

80 Also on the aer, or large chalice veil, from which the epitaphios is said 
to have developed ; the epitaphios (Slavonic Plaicinica) is a large icon painted 
on cloth or canvas and richly embroidered, which depicts the dead Christ alone 
or with the mourning Mother of God, Angels, Mary Magdalen, Mary Cleophas, 
Joseph of Arimathea, and Nicodemus ; it is used on Good Friday when it is 
carried around the church during Vespers and Matins, attended by great marks 
of veneration and devotion, symbolizing the funeral procession of Jesus. For 
those, interested in more information on these services, cfr. : E. Mercenier, La 
Priere Des Eglises de Rite Byzantin (2 volumes, with the second volume in 2 
parts, have appeared thus far) Chevtogne, Belgium : Monastere de Chevtogne, 
1948, vol. II Les Fetes, 2° partie L' Acathiste, La Quinzaine de Pdques. L' Ascension 
et la Pentecote, pp. 167-254. For the historical development of these objects, 
cfr. : P.E., op. cit., no. 1, pp. 76-78, no. 2, pp. 75-78, no. 3, pp. 57-65 ; John- 
stone, op. cit., pp. 25-26 ; A. Petrovskij, "Antimins", Pravoslavskaja Entsiklo- 
pedija, vol. I, col. 804-806 ; Raes, op. cit., pp. 62-63 '> Venetia, op. cit., pp. 97-98. 

31 Because the epitaphios becomes aggregated to the antimension, cfr. 
ibidem, especially Venetia. The reason for this is that the antimension, like the 
epitaphios, represents the Burial Shroud of Christ. This symbolism was first 
explained by St. Isadore Pelusiota (V c. ; P.G. 78 : 264) and St. Germanos, Pa- 
triarch of Constantinople (715-730 A.D. ; cfr. Nilo Borgia, II Commentario 
Liturgico di S. Germano Patriarca Costantinopolitano e la Versione Latina di 
Anastasio Bibliotecario, Grottaferrata : Badia S. Nilo, 191 2, p. 28) with regard 
to the eileton or corporal ; St. Symeon of Thessalonica (d. 1429 A.D. ; P.G. 
*55 : 333) seems to be, according to Petrides (DTC, col. 1390). the first one to 
apply this symbolism specifically to the antimension. This was a natural trans- 
ference, since the antimension had begun to take the place of the eileton as a 
corporal. At any rate, this is the symbolism accepted by all later writers : cfr. 
M. Bulgakov, Patriarkh Nikon v dele ispravljenia cerkovnych knig i obriadov, 
Moscow, 1881, p. 67 ; P.E., op. cit., no. 3, p. 57 ; John Glenn King, D.D., The 
Rites and ceremonies of the Greek church in Russia ; containing and account of 
its doctrine, worship and discipline, London, 1772, p. 162, n. 3; Korolevskij, op. 
cit., p. 498 ; MiRKOVid, op. cit., p. 120. Nikolskij, Antimins, pp. 165-166. Pe- 
trides (DTC, col. 1389) and Venetia (loc. cit.) note that this image is now always 
found on the antimension. The Latin Corporal also symbolizes the Shroud : 
cfr. Amanieu, DDC, col. 587. The Ambrosian Rite, at the point in the Solemn 
High Mass where the corporal is opened and spread on the altar has a prayer 
called "Super sindonem", i.e. "Over the Shroud". Cfr. : Petrides, EO, p. 198. 
A lesser symbolism of the antimension is the "Throne of God" because Christ's 
sacramental Presence in the Eucharist rests upon it during the Divine Liturgy ; 
cfr. above, pp. 24, 25, 126, 153; also cfr. Symeon, loc. cit., also the prayers used at 

4 o 

VI Ecumenical Council (Trullo - 692 A.D.) says that Christ is to be shown 
on icons in human form and not through a mere symbol (e.g. a lamb) : 

"The meaning of this conciliar decree is that in ecclesiastical 
art — and in particular on antimensia — one need not create 
and produce only symbolic subjects with allegorical expressions 
ofsacred things. Every subject in a sacred representation should 
presented clearly, in a defined manner and conformed to the 
doctrine of the Church, to tradition, and to the prescriptions of 
canon law. The icon of the Deposition of Christ in the Tomb 
when depicted on Antimensia corresponds to all these ex- 
igencies." 32 

Soon the Theotokos becomes prominent and thereafter Joseph of 
Arimathea and Nicodemus, mourning angels and John the Evangelist 
and Mary Cleophas are added. The four evangelists now appear reg- 
ularly, either on four small squares of cloth sewn to the four corners of 
the antimension 38 or more commonly depicted (either full figures, sym- 
bols, or even just their names) directly on the antimension. 34 The figures 
begin to proliferate and we find : The Eternal Father, the Trinity, the 
Holy Spirit (as a Dove), the instruments of the Passion, St. John Chryso- 
stom and St. Basil the Great, etc. 35 The influence of baroque art was 

the consecration of the Antimension: Goar, Eucholgion, p. 518; Archprist Alexios 
Von Maltzew, Begrdbnis-Ritus und einige specielle und alterthamliche Gottes- 
dienste der Orthodox-Katolischen Kirche des Morgenlandes, Berlin : Karl Sie- 
gesmund, 1898, part. II, 120-124. 

32 P.E., op. cit., no. 3, p. 70. 

38 Hyphasmata. Cfr. above, pp. 36-37, below pp. 56-57, 183. 

84 Cfr. : C. V. Bulgakov, op. cit., p. 710, prohibits the representation on 
the antimension of the Evangelists solely under the aspect of their symbolic ani- 
mals ; however, this seems to be a quite early symbol — they are shown thus on 
the paleo-Christian mosaics in the Apse of the Titulus of Pudens (St. Puden- 
tiana) in Rome, and in Ravenna. St. Irenaeus (d. ca. 202 A.D.) was the first of 
the Fathers of the Fathers of the Church to see (Adv. Haer. Ill,, 2, 8 ; P.G. 
7: 885-890) in the four creatures of Ezekiel's vision (Ezekiel 1: 5-14; 108-17; 
also Apocalypse (Revelation 4: 5-8) the symbols of the four Evangelists. They 
are generally assigned thus: St. Matthew^ human or angel; St. Mark^lion ; 
St. Luke^ox ; St. John^ Eagle. However, St. Irenaeus himself attributed the 
lion to St. John and the eagle to St. Mark, and both traditions co-exist in By- 
zantine iconography, especially before the end of the XVI c. Cfr. Leonid Ou- 
spensky and Vladimir, Lossky, The Meaning of Icons, Boston : Boston Book 
& Art Shop, Inc., 1969, p. 115. For Evangelists on antimensia; cfr. also: 
M. Bulgakov, loc. cit. ; Vbn£tia, loc. cit. 

86 Cfr. illustrations in P.E., op. cit., no. 3, pp. 62-65 ; Nikolskij, Antimins, 


felt in Greece and Russia. 36 In Romania, our Lord is shown often on the 
Cross or in a chalice. 37 

Liibeck complains that the images on the antimension "In gener. 1 
are drawn in a manner that is very common and lacking in arti 
quality." 38 Since the time (1916) of the article written by Liibeck, at 
least the artistic quality of the antimensia has improved. We would 
like to call attention, in particular, to the antimensia printed by the 
Vatican Press 39 for the Russian Catholics ; the Deposition upon it is a 
copy of a famous fresco dating back to 1164 from the monastery ( f 
St. Panteleimon, Nerezi, Yugoslavia, 40 which has been reproduced in 
six colors on the antimensia. 

3. In the XVII century mechanically printed antimensia became 
common. P. E. notes that : 

"The introduction of printing into Russia and also the 
development of engraving on wood and metal led to the idea 
of preparing printed antimensia, which appeared among us only 
a few decades after there was printed at Moscow the first book, 
the Epistolary (Apostol) (1564). Up until the present moment, 
no author who has studied the history of antimensia has been 
able to discover an antimension which was printed before the 
first half of the XVII century... The oldest extant printed 
antimensia are those printed in Kiev (1627), and the ones 
preserved in Moscow (1652, 1659, x 664, 1668, etc.)." 41 

Petrovskij, after having discussed various antimensia drawn and 
lettered by hand, says "The printed antimensia are distinguished by a 

ch. VII and the plates at the end of the book (25 plates of antimensia dating 
from 1 149 to 1797), illustrations in Theodorou, loc. cit. 

36 Cfr. P.E. no. 3, pp. 61-66. 

37 The bust of our slain Lord appears above the rim of the Chalice. Cfr. 
Venetia, op. cit., p. 98. 

38 Lubeck, op. cit., p. 398 : "Immer jedoch weist es auf der Innenseite 
fast die ganze Flache fiillende Bilder aus der Leidensgeschichte des Herrn auf, 
welche, zumeist in recht gezohnlicher und wening kunstlerischer Zeichnung, 
schwarz aufgedruckt oder aber, allerdings nur sehr selten, in Stickerei ange- 
bracht sind" ; also Duganie, op. cit., pp. 62-63. 

39 2,000 copies in January, 1967, and 2,500 copies in February. 1968. 

40 Cfr. NCE, II, p. 932 ; Alberto M. Amman, La Pittura Sacra Bizantina, 
Rome : Pontificium Institutum Orientalium Studiorum, 1957, pp. 101-103, and 
Kostas Papaioannou, Byzantine and Russian Painting, New York : Funk & 
Wagnalls, 1965, p. 178. 

41 P.E., op. cit., no. 1, 76-78. 


a greater variety and complexity of design." 42 Venetia underlines the 
fact that with the XVIII century the widespread use of printed anti- 

mensia begins. 43 

4. On some antimensia consecrated by Catholic Byzantine Rite 
Bishops, the innovation of having the consecrating bishop's "Coat of 
Arms" printed thereon or added by means of a rubber stamp has begun. 
Thus the antimensia consecrated in Rome by Bishop John Bucko, Apo- 
stolic Visitator of the Ukrainian Catholics of the Byzantine Rite who 
reside in the territory of Western Europe (His Excellency is said to con- 
secrate 600 antimensia per month for distribution by the Sacred Congre- 
gation of the Oriental Church), bears his episcopal coat of arms imprinted 
by means of a rubber stamp. Those consecrated by the Ukrainian and 
Ruthenian Catholic Bishops in the United States of America usually have 
the Bishop's coat of arms printed directly on the antimension. The By- 
zantine Melkite (Catholic) antimensia printed in Egypt in 1948 bear the 
printed coat of arms of the late beloved Patriarch Maximos IV of Antioch. 
In general, the use of a Coat of Arms by a Bishop is a development of 
Latin medieval heraldry and is unknown to Orthodox Bishops and 
those Byzantine Catholics who follow them closely. 

As a seal, Orthodox bishops usually use a cross or the representa- 
tion of a hand raised in blessing ; thus the Russian Catholic Bishop 
Vladyka Andrei Katkoff, Ordaining Bishop for the Byzantine Rite in 
Rome and Apostolic Visitator for all Russians of the Byzantine Rite 
outside of Russia, uses a simple three-barred Slavic Cross for this seal ; 
antimensia consecrated by him bear his name and titular See (Nauplia) 
but no coat of arms. 

5. In regard to the inscriptions, the earliest antimensions still 
extant have the name of the consecrating bishop and other particulars of 
consecration inscribed on the cloth, usually at top or bottom or along 
the sides. Manuel Charitoupolis, Patriarch of Constantinople (XIII c), 
after noting that the antimension is made from the cloth which is used 
on the fixed altar during its consecration, says that this cloth is "cut into 
pieces and having been inscribed (or painted ? graphomenou : ypcccpofiivou), 
is given to priests, who may not celebrate without it." 44 

42 Petrovskij, op. ext., col. 804. 

43 Venetia, op. cit., p. 97. 

44 P. G. 119 : 809 ; for early inscriptions and inscriptions in general see : 
Nikolskij, Antintins, ch. VIII ; for modern inscriptions in Greek see : De 


Often the church or Priest for which the antimension is destined is 
specified. 45 Even if the rest of the ornamentation and inscriptions on 
the antimension are printed (mechanically), the Bishop must sign it with 
his own hand. 46 The particulars of the consecration usually give, besides 
the name of the Bishop and his See, the day, month and year of the con- 
secration, the years being computed both from the supposed date of the 
Creation of the World and from the traditional date of the birth of 

Meester, op. cit., pp. 236-237 ; Goar, op. cit., p. 663 ; Lubeck, op. ext., pj>. 
399-400 ; Petrides, EO, p. 200 ; Theodorou, loc. cit. ; P. M. Tremplas, "Anti- 
mension", Megale Ellinike Enkyklopaideia, tomos 4, pp. 880-881 ; for moder.i 
inscriptions in Slavonic, see P.E., op. cit., no. 3, pp. 66-68 who gives this in- 
scription suggested by Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow to the Holy Synod on 
October 23, 1893 : on the upper part (across the top) of the antimension : "This 
antimension is consecrated by the grace of the Most Holy and Life-giving Spirit 
as Holy Table (altar), so that there may be offered on it the Divine Sacrifice of 
the Body and Blood of the Lord in the Holy Liturgy" and on the lower part 
(across the bottom) : "With the blessing (i.e. permission) of the Holy Governing 
Synod, this has been consecrated by His Excellency N.N. in the year from the 
creation of the world..., from the Nativity of Christ..., in the month of... on the..." 
and "Consigned to be used for celebration in the church of N.N. (name of my- 
stery or saint to whom church dedicated." (Note that identification of the relics 
is not ordinarily specified). The "Holy Governing Synod" was the Council of 
Bishops, with a lay "Oberprokurer" or head official, which was founded to rule 
the Russian Orthodox Church when Tsar Peter the Great suppressed the Moscow 
Patriarchate in 1721 ; the Moscow Patriarchate was restored only on the eve 
of the Bolshevik revolution November 21, 1917 — hence the reference to the 
Holy Synod is now obsolete. See also Petrovskij, op. cit., col. 805-806 ; Ko- 
rolevskij, op. cit., p. 498. 

45 P.E., op. cit., (see preceding note) ; MirkoviC, op. cit., p. 120 ; Xikol- 
skij, Antimins, loc. cit., and pp. 61, 81 ff ; Petrides, DTC, col. 1390 ; Petrov- 
skij, op. cit., col. 805, 807. 

46 Bulgakov, Nastoljnaja Kniga, p. 710 : "Every antimension must be 
signed by the Bishop who consecrated it." De Meester, op. cit., p. 159 ; Ni- 
kolskij, Antimins, ch. VIII ; Nikolskij, Ustav, pp. 8-9 where he says that the 
ecclesiastical authorities "are obliged to be vigilant to see to it that the anti- 
mension is signed by the bishop who consecrated it." The present writter has seen 
an antimension in the Greek Orthodox church (St. Andrew) in Rome which was 
consecrated by His Holiness Athenagoras I, Patriarch of Constantinople in Oc- 
tober, 1952, which had just the month and year writen in and had not been 
signed. The Patriarch's name was printed in an inscription which ran around the 
four sides of the antimension. I have also seen an antimension, printed in Egypt 
in 1948, consecrated by Patriarch Maximos IV of Antioch, which had no hand- 
written inscription nor particulars of consecration ; all it had was an inscription 
printed in Greek and Arabic telling that this was an altar, and the tropar of 


Christ. 47 Thus, the above-mentioned antimensia printed by the Va- 
tican Press in January, 1967, and consecrated in the same month by 
His Excellency Most Rev. Andrew Katkoff, bear on the bottom edge the 
following inscription (in Church Slavonic) : "Consecrated by the Most 
Reverend Andrew, by the mercy of God Bishop of Nauplia, in the year 
since the founding of the world 7475, from the Birth of Christ 1967, in 
the month of January, the J2th day. (signed) Andrew, Bishop of Na- 
uplia. 48 

6. In regard to the data of consecration, Venetia says that "This 
inscription is indispensable; it cannot be lacking." 49 Metropolitan Philaret 
of Moscow, in a report to the Holy Synod on October 23, 1863, with 
regard to the form of the inscription then in common use (and which he 
was criticizing) on the antimensia of the Russian Orthodox Church, 
declared : 

"This inscription cannot be considered inviolable, because 
the inscriptions on antimensia have had different forms during 
various epochs ; because no legislative act can be found which 
confirms the present inscription ; and because, although the 
present one appeared after the former ones, it by no means ever 
became all at once uniform and common for all. Thus, there are 
sufficient reasons to submit it to examination and correction." 50 

Good Friday "Noble Joseph" (see below, p. 45), nor was it signed. With all due re- 
verence to their Holinesses, it would seem preferable to avoid all possible future 
problems by writing in the particulars of consecration and especially the name 
and signature of the consecrator. CICO Fontes, serie II, fascicolo VII, Textus 
Selecti Iuris Ecclesiastici Russorum (ed. Aemilius Herman, s.j. & Antonius 
Wuyts, s.j. ; S. Cong, per la Chiesa Orientale, Prot. N. 527/40 ; Rome : Schola 
Typogranca Pio X, 1944), no. 946, p. 292 : "The Dean must be vigilant ...that 
the holy antimension is signed by the Bishop who consecrated it, and that it is 
not old nor has holes nor is stained nor discolored." 

47 See references under note 44, page 42 above ; sometimes the number 
of the year of the particular "Indiction" is also noted. No doubt these are tra- 
ditions left over from the civil and ecclesiastical "stylus curiae" of the Byzan- 
tine Empire. 

48 Other antimensia were consecrated in a ceremony on January 28, 1967. 
The underlined parts of the inscription, i.e. Andrew, Nauplia, 75, 67, January, 12, 
were rilled in, in Slavonic, by means of rubber stamps specially made up for 
that purpose ; Vladyka Andrei then signed "Andrew, Bishop of Nauplia" to 
each one. 

49 Venetia, op. cit., p. 98. 

50 P.E., op. cit., no. 3, p. 67. 


Hence we may conclude that, although an inscription giving the 
data of consecration is most desirable, its form is by no means minutely 

7. Along the top is often found an inscription giving the purpose 
of the antimension ; thus the antimensia consecrated by Vladyka Andrew 
Katkoff have printed at the top : "The grace of the Most Holy and Life- 
giving Spirit hallows this antimension that it may be a Sacred Table, for 
the purpose of offering on it the Divine Sacrifice of the Body and Blood 
of the Lord in the Holy Liturgy." 51 

Since the antimension has been aggregated to the Epitaphios, 52 it 
often bears the same inscription, a hymn 53 used at the Burial Service of 
Christ on Good Friday 54 and during each Divine Liturgy when the 
paten" and chalice containing the elements for the Holy Sacrifice are 
deposited on the antimension at the end of the Great Entrance : 55 "The 
Noble Joseph (of Arimathea) took down from the Cross your immacu- 
late Body, and wrapping it in a clean shroud with sweet spices, sorro- 
wing, he laid it in a new grave." 56 

61 Cfr. note 43, page 42 and 44, pages 42-43 above. 

62 As we have seen above ; cfr. note 30, page 39 above, and note 31, page 
39 above. 

53 A "troparion" (in II tone) to be exact ; it is a metrical composition 
giving the theme of the feast or particular part of the Office and is analogous to 
a "collect" or "oration" of the Latin Fite ; cfr. Attwater, Catholic Dictionary, 
p. 501, for more details. Also cfr. Johnstone, op. cit., p. 53 ; Meletius Michael 
Solovey, The Byzantine Divine Liturgy, History and Commentary, trans. D. E. 
Wysochansky, Washington, D.C. : The Catholic University of America Press, 
Inc., 1970, p. 183, n. 21 ; Egon Wellesz, A History of Byzantine Music and 
Hymnography (II ed.), Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1961, pp. 1 71-197. 

54 Cfr. Hapgood, op. cit., pp. 218-220 ; Mercenier, loc. cit. especially 
pp. 214, 218, and above, p. 39, note 30. 

55 Hapgood, op. cit., p. 97 ; Mercenier, La Priere Des Eglises De Rite 
Byzantin, tome 1 L' Office Divin, La Liturgie, Les Sacrements, p. 246. 

56 Ibidem ; Cardinal Mai, Novae Patrum Bibliothecae, tomus V Sancti Ni- 
cephori et Sancti Theodori Studitae, Rome : Typis Sacri Consilii Propagando Cri- 
stiano Nomini, 1849, in his introduction, on p. VIII, describes an antimension 
seen by him and gives the inscription of the troparion in Greek and then in Latin: 
"Nobilis Joseph de Ligno deponens immaculatum Corpus tuum, puraque sindone 
involvens cum aromatibus in monumento novo funerans posuit (ex Marc. XV. 43)." 
Also Petrides, DACL, col. 2325. 

4 6 

8. As far as color schemes are concerned, they have been myriad : 
black printing on white cloth ; 57 black printing on colored cloth ; 58 red 
and black printing on white cloth ; 59 six colors printed on white cloth, 60 etc. 

9. In the matter, then, of the ornamentation and inscription of 
the antimension, we may say that the only thing necessary is some means 
of telling what its purpose is (a cross, image, or inscription) and that it 
has been consecrated by a bishop (bishop's signature, preferably with 
date of consecration). These would not seem to be of such importance, 
however, as to make invalid the consecration of an antimension lacking 
any or all of them. 

III. Inclusion of Relics 

We have seen that an important use of the antimension was to 
guarantee the presence of relics in altars which had been consecrated 
without relics, or which had lost their relics, or which had relics of 
doubtful authenticity. The Council of Carthage had decreeed that the 
ocal bishops must destroy any altars which had been consecrated without 
relics of the martyrs. 61 Canon 7 of the Seventh Ecumenical Council 
(II Nicaea - 787 A.D.) declared that : 

"If any church has been consecrated without the sacred 
relics of martyrs, relics are now to be placed there in with the 
customary prayers. A Bishop who henceforward consecrates a 
church without holy relics is to be deposed as a transgressor of 
ecclesiastical tradition." 62 

X, It seems that the Iconoclasts, condemning the use of relics as 
well as of images as idolatry, used to consecrate churches without relics. 88 

67 Cfr. our chart : Some Modern Printed Antimensia Compared, p. 307. 

58 Ibidem. 

59 Ibidem. 

60 Ibidem. 

61 Reported by Matthew Blastares, in his Syntagma Alphabeticum, P.G. 
144 : 1289. 

62 For Greek, Latin and English versions of this text, cfr. the sources 
listed under note 24, page 37 above. Cfr. also P.E., op. cit., no. I, pp. 70-71. 

63 Cfr. Theodore Balsamon, loc. cit. ; also the commentary of Zonaras 
on the same canon, P.G. 137 : 913. 


Thus, Theodore Balsamon, in his Commentary on Canon 7 of the VII 
Ecumenical Council, after castigating the Iconoclasts for consecrating 
churches without relics, writes (ca. 1197) : 

"And how can oratories be consecrated today without relics? 
And why are these sacred rites not carried out by a Bishop but 
by a simple Priest ? To these questions the answer is : because 
at the consecration of a church the Bishop makes (i.e. conse- 
crates) antimensia which are sent to oratories and suffice for 
their consecration, or dedication, enthroning (setting up of 
altar), inauguration and solemn opening (of the oratory)." 64 

It is clear here that the antimension substitutes for the presence 
of relics (and the personal consecration of the oratory by the Bishop) 
and therefore itself must contain relics. Patriarch Manuel Charitoupolis 
of Constantinople (XIII c.) says : 

"Antimensia are not necessary on all altars, only on those 
whose consecration is uncertain. For antimensia take the place 
of the consecration of the Holy Table (fixed altar) ; there is no 
need for them where the Table itself is consecrated." 65 

From this latter text we can draw two conclusions : 1) antimensia 
must be used on altars whose consecration is uncertain ; 2) but they must 
have already begun to be used on all altars in some places or the Patriarch 
would not have felt the necessity to clarify the matter. 

2. Balsamon, in his reply to Question 13 of Mark, is even more 
precise ; he reports that the Byzantine Emperor Leo the Philosopher 66 
stipulated in his fourth and fifteenth Novellae (ca. 888) that a priest 
might celebrate the Sacred Mysteries not only in public churches (eU 
t&s exxXY]<Tia<;) but also in domestic oratories ("prayerhouses" : (efc tooc 
eux?)T7)pfous olxoin;) and then (Balsamon) adds : 

"Thus a priest is not to be judged a transgressor of the ca- 
nons, according to the tenor of this (Leo's) decree, who using 
an antimension celebrates the Sacred Mysteries, or baptizes 67 

64 P.G., 137 : 912. 

65 P.F., 119 : 812 ; cfr. also Shipman, op. cit., p. 563. 
68 Cfr. De Clercq, op. cit., pp. 59~6o. 

67 Baptism is mentioned here because according to the Byzantine tradi- 
tion, the newly baptized is Confirmed and then immediately Communicated (even 
an infant) ; thus it is necessary to celebrate the Divine Liturgy to have the two 


in a domestic oratory which has not been consecrated nor has 
had sacred relics (which are the treasure and glory of the Ca- 
tholic Church) deposited therein." 68 

3. The opinion that the antimension supplies not only for the lack 
of consecration of the altar but also substitute for the whole oratory is 
shared also by Archbishop John of Kitros (ca. 1200), 69 Matthew Blastares 
(ca. 1335), 70 and St. Symeon of Thessalonica (d. 1429) ; 71 it supplies 
for the lack of consecration because it has been consecrated with Holy 
Myron (Sacred Chrism) by a bishop, and it supplies for the lack of relics 
evidently because it contains relics of the saints. 

4. Thus, it is difficult to sustain the opinion of Fr. Joseph Braun 
and Fr. Alphonse Raes who state that there were no relics in the anti- 
mensia until the XIII and XIV centuries, without, however, their in- 
clusion becoming a general custom even at that late date. Thus, Fr. Braun 
says: "Relics were not placed in the antimensia until the end of the 
XIII c." 72 His reason for saying so is that the Euchologia up to this time 
giving the Consecration of Antimensia do not mention the inclusion of 
relics. However, as Fr. Braun himself already has noted about the deposi- 
tion of relics: "Unlike the Roman Rite, it (deposition of relics) is not 
included in the ceremony itself of consecration, but follows." 73 The 
silence of the Euchologia on this point would not therefore seem to prove 
anything. Father Raes, speaking of the first antimensia, says: "These 
antimensia are still without relics and can be washed (cfr. Canons 16 and 
96 attributed to the Patriarch Nichephoros) 74 ...The usage of placing 
relics in the antimension can be therefore traced to the XIV c. without 
having yet become general at that time. 75 However, the canons 16 and 96 

Eucharistic Species. Cfr. King, op. cit., p. 16 ; Mercenier, op. cit., 1, pp. 321- 
325. 351 

68 P.G. 138 : 965- 

69 John of Kitros, op. cit., P.G. 119 : 976. 

70 Matthew Blastares, op. cit., P.G. 144-1288-1289. 

71 Symeon of Thessalonica, op. cit., P.G. 155 : 333. 

72 Braun, op. cit., 1, pp. 649-650 : "In das Antimension wurden, wie es 
scheint, noch zu Ausgang des 13 Jahrhunderts keine Reliquien gelegt." 

73 Ibidem, p. 648 : "Sie findet sowohl bei der Weihe des altare nixum als 
der des Antimension statt, ist aber nicht, wie im rbmischen Ritus, in den Weiheakt 
hineinverwoben, sondern folgt." 

74 For text of these canons, cfr. below, pp. 86-87. 

75 Raes, op. cit., pp. 61-62 : "Ces Antimensia sont encore sans reliques et 
peuvent Stre laves." 


of St. Nicephoros cited by Fr. Raes have been traditionally interpreted 
by all Byzantine canonists, as we will see below, 76 as forbidding, not 
permitting, the washing of an antimension. Moreover, the great Byzantine 
canonist, Theodore Balsamon, 77 writing ca. 1170 A.D., speaks so speci- 
fically of the antimension as supplying for the lack of relics in a place of 
cult (and the necessity of having relics in churches and oratories) that it is 
difficult to imagine that it was not the common practice to have relics 
inserted in the antimensia. He speaks of the use of antimensia as the 
means used to fulfill Canon 7 of the VII Ecumenical Council, mentioned 
above, 78 and therefore the use of relics in the antimensia probably dates 
back to that Council (787 A.D.) or shortly thereafter. Fr. Cyril Koro- 
levskij 79 sees the antimension furnished with relics as originating in the 
VI c. in Syria with the Jacobites and Monophysite Syrians who were 
persecuted by the civil power and official Church and so constrained to 
celebrate in hidden places and in private homes. Protopope Giuseppe 
Ferrari highlights the fact that the use of relics was a premeditated 
reaction against the Iconoclast abhorrence of relics as well as sacred 
images : 

"Since it was already the custom to place under the Altars 
the bodies of martyrs, it was a logical consequence to sew relics 
into the Antimensia used without an Altar. And when, during the 
inconoclastic period, the heretics cast out the relics from some chur- 
ches, the (antimensia) with relics sewn into them were multiplied 
a bit out of spite (reaction) and a bit out of (a sense of) necessity. 
It is to be noted, however, that it is not the relics which con- 
secrate the mensa or the antimension, but the Myron (Chrism) 
and the prayers of the ceremony. The deposition of relics is 
only an integral (and not an essential) part of the dedication 
of a church. It is sufficient to consult the Euchologia to ascer- 
tain that when the Mensa was consecrated, at the end (of the 
ceremony) the relics were inserted. The custom of depositing 
them (under the Altar) before the consecration (of the Altar 
and church) is a usage which is almost modern, introduced in 
the last fifty years... 80 After the iconoclastic period antimensia 
with relics, and used also on consecrated Altars, became more 
and more common. And among the Slavs it became the com- 

76 Cfr. below, pp. 85 ff. 

77 Cfr. Balsamon, op. ext., P.G. 137 : 612-616, 909-913 ; 138 : 964-965- 
Cfr. above, p. 47. 

78 Cfr. above, p. 46. 

79 KOROLEVSKIJ, Op. dt., p. 498. 

80 Fr. Ferrari's article was written in 195°- 

5 - J. M. Izzo - The Antimension 


mon usage. Not so among the Greeks, however. The missio- 
naries who left Byzantium for the Slavic world carried with 
them complete antimensia and only these (i.e. they did not 
have consecrated fixed altars, naturally - ed.). And in that 
(part of the) world this tradition was perpetuated up until the 
present day so that, whether the mensa be consecrated or not, 
the Slavs celebrate upon antimensia containing relics. The 
Greeks, on the other hand, according to the ancient tradition, 
recognize the two types of antimensia and some liturgists even 
(distinguish between them and) call one an eileton and the 
other an antimension. In this sense are to be interpreted the 
replies of some canonists (thus John of Kitros' reply to Con- 
stantine of Dyrrachium and so many others)/' 81 

5. Would an antimension consecrated without relics be validly 
consecrated ? To answer this question we must follow a distinction which 
Archpriest Constantine Nikolskij 82 makes between portable and fixed 
antimensia : the former are simply portable and can be used on a suitable 
flat surface anywhere as a substitute for an Altar (and he remarks that 
originally all antimensia were simply portable). Fixed antimensia are 
those which are destined (according to modern usage) to be used on a 

81 Ferrari, op. ext., pp. 109-110: 

"Essendo poi invalso l'uso di deporre sotto gli Altari i corpi dei Martiri, fu 
conseguenza logica che anche negli dcvTiu-lvoia usati senza Altare, si cucissero le 
SS. Reliquie. E quando, nel periodo iconoclastico, gli eretici gettarono via da 
alcune Chiese le Reliquie, si moltiplicarono, un po' per reazione, un po' per ne- 
cessity, gli ElXyjTdc con Reliquie cucite. Si noti per6 che non sono le Reliquie a 
consacrare la Mensa o 1'EIXt)t6v ma il MOpov e le preci di rito. La deposizione 
delle Reliquie e parte solo integrante della dedicazione di una Chiesa. Basta 
consultare gli 'EuxoX6yia per constatare che quando la Mensa era consacrata, alia 
fine vi si introducevano le Reliquie. La loro deposizione prima della consacra- 
zione e uso quasi contemporaneo, introdottosi in questi ultimi cinquant'anni... 

Dopo il periodo iconoclastico diventano sempre piu communi gli ' Av-uuivaia 
con le Reliquie, usati anche sugli Altari consacrati. E presso gli Slavi divenne 
uso comune. Non cosl per6 tra i Greci. I Missionari partiti da Bisanzio per il 
mondo slavo, portarono con s6 gli ' Avxiuivata integrati e solo questi. E in quel 
mondo si perpetud tale tradizione, sino ad oggi, cosl che, consacrata o non con- 
sacra la Mensa, gli Slavi celebrano comunemente su 'Avriuivaia con Reliquie. 
I Greci invece, secondo la tradizione antica, conoscono i due tipi di 'Avxtuivoia, 
e qualche liturgista anzi chiama molte volte EIXy;t6v l'uno e 'Av-uulvaiov pro- 
priamente l'altro. In questo senso da interpretarsi le risposte di alcuni Canonisti 
(cosl Giovanni di Citro a Costantino di Durazzo e tanti altri)." 

82 Nikolskij, Antimins, ch. IV, Portable and Non-Portable Antimensia, 
pp. 61 ff ; cfr. also Petrovskij, op. cit., col. 807-808. 


consecrated fixed Altar. 83 It is clear that there is no need for relics in 
the fixed antimensia because the Altar on which they are used already 
contains relics, 84 and that therefore they can be validly consecrated 
without relics. Braun, 85 following Petrides 86 and Lubeck 87 (neither of 
whom seem to treat of the problem clearly), simply states : "For the va- 
lidity of the consecration of the antimension and the liceity of its use, 
it is not commonly a requisite that it contain relics." It seems that 
Father Braun is incorrect in not having made the above distinction, and 
that one must examine the use to which the antimension is to be put. 
It is the present writer's opinion 88 that antimensia (even with the in- 
tention that they be portable) are validly consecrated without relics, but 
that it would be absolutely illicit to use them outside of a consecrated 
fixed altar. If they are to be licitly used as true portable altars, relics 
must^first be added. It is preferable, but not necessary, that the relics 
be added by a Bishop with the customary prayers and ceremony. 

In support of our opinion, we cite the practice of the Greek Ortho- 
dox Patriarchate of Jerusalem which is described by Petrides : 89 

"The antimensia come habitually from the Patriarchate of 
Jerusalem, whose press is equipped for their printing; they are 
kept by the metochia 90 of the Holy Sepulcher. They are de- 
livered unconsecreated and without relics. The Bishops con- 
secrate them and send them to the priests who have need of 

83 As the equivalent of the Roman corporal; cfr. below, pp. no ff. 

84 The fixed consecrated altar of the Byzantine Rite always contains relics: 
cfr. below, pp. 120-121, 181-182. Also Nikolskij, Ustav, p. 8, op. ext., loc. cit. 

85 Braun, op. cit., 1, p. 520 : "Zur Giiltigkeit der Weihe des Antimension 
und zur Erlaubtheit seiner Verzendung ist demnach nicht allgemein eforderlich, 
dass es Reliquien ethalt ;" cfr. also Ibidem, p. 650. 

86 Petrides, EO, pp. 193 ff. (Fr. Braun cites the entire article without spe- 
cifying a particular section). 

87 Lubeck, op. cit., pp. 346 ff. (Again, Fr. Braun cites the entire article 
without specifying the particular section which supports his statement). 

88 The following statement from Ferrari, op. cit., p. no, would tend to 
support the argument : "Note, however, that it is not the relics which consecrate 
the Mensa or antimension but the Myron (Chrism) and the ceremonial prayers. 
The deposition of relics is only an integral part of the dedication of a church." 
Cfr. also Braun, op. cit., vol. I, pp. 648-650. 

89 Petrides, EO, p. 199- 

90 I.e. small Greek Orthodox monastery attached to Church of Holy Se- 
pulcher. Cfr. CICO Fontes, serie II, fascicolo X, pp. 7-8. 


them. Before using them on an unconsecrated altar, these 
(priests) ask for relics from the Patriarchate or from another 
church which possesses them." 91 

It is reported that in the Russian branch of the Byzantine Rite 
relics are used in every antimension while in the other branches of the 
Byzantine Rite antimensia without relics (to be used as "fixed antimensia" 
on consecrated fixed altars) are found. 92 

6. The relics (usually three particles) are enclosed 93 in wax-mastic, 94 
anointed with chrism by the bishop, and sewn in a bag or pouch onto 
the reverse side of the antimension. St. Symeon of Thessalonica 95 pre- 
scribes that the pouch of relics be sewn on to the part toward the East 
(that is the upper part, the part furthest from the celebrant-usually 
under the place where the arms of the Cross depicted on the observe 
of the antimension meet). Some of the Byzantines 96 affix the bag of 
relics to the part which faces the West, the part nearest the celebrant 

91 Petrides, EO, p. 199 : "Les antimensia viennent habituellement du 
patriarcat de Jerusalem, dont l'imprimerie est outillee pour leur impression ; les 
metochia du Saint-Sepulcre en possedent aussi des dep6ts. On les delivre non 
consacr6e et sans reliques. Les eveques les consacrent et les remettent aux pretres 
qui en ont besoin. Avant de s'en servir sur un autel non consacre, ceux-ci de- 
mandent des reliques au patriarcat ou a tout eglise qui en possede." 

92 Cfr. Braun, op. ext., I, pp. 520, 648; Ferrari, op. cit., pp. 109-110; 
Lubeck, op. cit., p. 4100 Nikolskij, Ustav, p. 8; Pedalion (Cummings), p. 327; 
Petrides, EO, p. 199 ; Petrovskij, op. cit., col. 801-802 ; Shipman, op. cit., p. 564. 
The Slavs have always used relics in all their antimensia because the Greek mis- 
sionaries who converted them carried this type and no others, since there were as 
yet no consecrated fixed altars to be found in the newly converted territories ; 
the Slavs, being assiduous conservers of tradition, have kept this practice until 
modern times. Cfr. Ferrari, loc. cit. 

93 For ceremony, cfr. below, pp. 69-78 and pp. 277 ff. 

94 Cfr. below, 66-67 for details. In brief, wax-mastic is a mixture pre- 
pared by heating together beeswax, mastic (a type of resin or gum from Chios), 
marble dust and various aromatics ; it is used as a kind of cement to keep the par- 
ticles of relics together and to keep them in the cloth pouches (which are not always 
sewn shut) ; it is also used at the consecration of the Byzantine fixed consecrated 
altar to cement the mensa to its stipites (columns). It is warmed when it is to be 
used and has excellent adhesive qualities ; when cooled it retains some flexibility, 
if prepared properly. 

95 Symeon of Thessalonica, op. cit., P.G. 155 : 333. Cfr. below, p. 71, 

n. 64. 

96 Especially the Melkites and Italo-Greek-Albanians. 


(and therefore perhaps nearer the paten and chalice during the celebra- 
tion of Liturgy), but the majority of the Byzantine Catholics and Ortho- 
dox follow the prescription of Symeon of Thessalonica. In the case of 
the others, we may say that legitimate custom and the relative unim- 
portance of the position of the relics justify the continuance of their 

7. What may be said from the legal aspect concerning whether or 
not the relics must be of martyrs and how many relics should there be ? 
We have already stated the opinion that the antimension may validly 
be consecrated without relics, but that its use as a portable altar would 
be absolutely forbidden until relics were inserted. Must these relics be of 
more than one saint ? The Pedalion 97 seems to infer so but since it is 
not clear, the present writer feels that here we may have recourse to Latin 
Rite jurisprudence as a supplementary source of law by analogy. Relics 
are also required for the consecration of Latin Rite fixed and portable 
altars (and here for validity) ; yet the Sacred Congregation of Rites 98 
declared that for the valid consecration of a fixed or a portable altar the 
relics of a Martyr together with those of a Confessor or Virgin, or even 
the relics of one Martyr alone, are sufficient. Therefore the same would 
seem to hold true for the antimension. 99 

97 Cfr. Pedalion (Cummings), p. 437, where it is also implied that the Martyrs 
must be recognized as such by the ecclesiastical authorities, i.e. "Canonized." 

98 S.R.C., 6 Feb. 1906, ad 3, Decreta Authentica Congregationis Sacrorum 
Rituum, n. 4180. The juridical sources prescribe, regarding the relics to be used 
in a Latin Rite altar, whether fixed or portable, as follows : the relics must be 
of canonized Saints recognized by the Church ; the relics of at least two Saints 
must be included, one of whom must be a martyr (the relic of one Saint, a Martyr, 
would suffice for validity) ; the relics must be actual portions of the Saints' bodies, 
not simply of their garmentsor of other objects which they may have used or 
touched ; the relics must be certainly authentic (even if the actual name of the 
saint is unknown). For the preceding, cfr. Nicholas Martin Bliley, Altars 
According to the Code of Canon Law (Canon Law Studies Number 38 ; Washington, 
D.C. : The Catholic University of America, 1927). PP- 83-85, also pp. 35"4 2 . 
81-83, 105- 

99 However, since 1969, the Latin Rite no longer absolutely requires that 
relics be used for the consecration of Altars, and if they are used, they need not 
be of Martyrs. Cfr. Missale Romanum (i97°)> Institutio Generalis, n. 266 (p. 76); 
and A. P. Frutaz, "II Culto delle reliquie e loro uso nella consecrazione degli 
altari," Notitiae, 9 & 10 (Sept. & Oct., 1965) : 309-307- However their use is 
still encouraged. These latest developements weaken our argument for the ne- 
cessity of the inclusion of the relics of martyrs. 


The commentators 100 seem to require that the relics be those of 
Martyrs ; the Pedalion 101 specifically notes : 

"The relics that are to be collected as treasure ought to be 
the relics of martyrs, and not of devout persons or hierarchs. 
For this reason the practice followed in Moscow is to be praised. 
For there the relics of the martyrs are kept in the Archbishopric 
and whenever there is need of dedicating any temple, the Pre- 
late alone takes them from there, in order to prevent the oc- 
currence of any mistake whereby instead of relics of martyrs, 
either common relics or other holy relics, and not those of 
martyrs, might be treasured up as such... In the same way, 
too, in the case of antimensia used instead of Holy Tables, 
the sanctifying power residing in them is not sufficient alone on 
the occasion of the dedication of a temple 102 unless they have 
the relics of martyrs sewn up with them. That is why the or- 
dinance in the Euchologion applying to the consecration of the 
antimensia prescribes that these are to be consecrated by means 
of relics of martyrs." 

From the above discussion, we may then draw the following con- 
clusions : 

1. Antimensia may be validly consecrated without relics. 

2. To be used licitly as a portable altar, antimensia must con- 
tain relics. 

3. The relic of one saint is sufficient. 

4. However, this saint should be a martyr. 

100 Cfr. Canon 7 of the Seventh Ecumenical Council (Nicae II) quoted 
above ; Theodore Balsamon, P.G. 137 : 912 ; Alexios Aristenes, P.G. 137: 
913 ; Matthew Blastares, P.G. 144 : 1288-1289. The prayers during the con- 
secration of the antimension mention the martyrs specifically (cfr. Goar, op. 
cit., p. 518 and the Euchologia and their translations mentioned below, pp. 

101 Pedalion (Cummings), p. 437. 

102 According to the Byzantine Mystique, objects to be blessed are placed 
on the altar and draw their sanctification from it (cfr. Mt. 23 : 18). The prayers 
of the Bishop or priest are considered more an official declaration of what has 
already taken place, cfr. below, pp. 78-79. Here the sanctification residing in 
the antimensia which have been consecrated on the altar is not enough for them 
to be used as a substitute for the altar unless relics are placed in them to comply 
with Canon 7 of the VII Ecumenical Council (Nicaea II) mentioned above. 



We have seen that the antimension developed out of the necessity 
of having a portable canonically consecrated altar, in order to follow the 
ancient tradition of celebrating the Holy Mysteries only on a consecrated 
altar, when it was impossible to find a certainly canonically apt conse- 
crated fixed altar ; also that it was considered as supplying for the con- 
secration not only of the altar but of the whole sacred ambient, and that 
for this reason, the antimension was often called the xaOiepcoo^ (Kathie- 
rosis), "that which is consecrated." Hence, there can hardly be any 
question of the necessity of the consecration of the Byzantine antimension 1 . 

Our study, then, at this point turns to the Minister of this consecra- 
tion, the ceremony by which it is accomplished, and the circumstances 
under which the consecrated antimension loses its usefulness (rather than 
losing simply its consecration). 

I. The Minister of the Consecration of the Antimension 

i. Archimandrite Placidus De Meester states, in regard to the 
Minister of the Consecration of altars and antimensia in the Byzan- 
tine Rite : 

"That only the Bishop has the right and the faculty to con- 
secrate churches, or better, altars, is an indisputable principle 
drawn from the Church Canons and taught by all the canonists". 2 

1 Cfr. Bliley, op. cit., pp. 3°~34. 75» io 3 ; De Meester, op. ext., pp. 177- 
178 ; Goar, op. ext., p. 521 ; Raes, op. cit., p. 61 ; also pp. 74, 75, 173. 

2 De Meester, op. cit., p. 155 : "Che il Vescovo solo abbia il diritto e la 
facolta di consacra le chiese, o meglio gli altari, e principio inconcusso indetto 
dei canoni della chiesa ed insegnato da tutti i canonisti." 


"...this rite (the consecration of antimensia) is analogous, 
not to say identical, to that of the consecration of an altar. It 
is not to be wondered at, then, if ecclesiastical law reserves 
solely to the Bishop the faculty of consecrating antimensia, 
founding this doctrine on the same canonical institutes which 
reserve to the episcopal power the consecration of altars." 3 

This ancient tradition of the Church has its earliest canonical ex- 
pression in the Sixth Canon of the VI Synod of Carthage (438 or 525 
A.D.), denying to Priests the faculty of using Sacred Chrism to perform 
consecrations (and therefore also the consecrations of altars) : 

"The application of Chrism and the Consecration of Virgins 
shall not be done by Priests (presbyters) ; nor shall it be per- 
missable for a priest to reconcile anyone at a public Liturgy. 
This is the decision of us all." 4 

2. The lone voice dissenting from the tradition that the consecra- 
tion of antimensia as the exclusive competence of a Bishop is the great 
medieval liturgist St. Symeon of Thessalonica (d. 1429) who states : 

"(The consecration of antimensia) should be done principally 
by a Bishop ; in case of necessity, however, it may be performed 
as experienced Priest delegated by him." 5 

Most historical authors 6 content themselves with repeating this 
opinion of St. Symeon. Father Denis Rudolph Kiwitz analyzes this 
statement in depth : 

3 Ibidem, p. 159 : "Nella sezione II, 1, sara studiato questo rito, e si vedra 
che e analogo, per non dire identico, a quello della consacrazione dell'altare. 
Non c'e quindi da meravigliarsi se il diritto ecclesiastico riserva al solo vescovo 
la facolta di consacrare gli antiminsi, fondando questa dottrina sui medesimi 
instrumenti canonici che riservano alia potesta episcopale la consacrazione degli 

4 Pedalion (Cummings), p. 608. This canon was subsequently assumed 
into canon 7 of the VII Ecumenical Council (as quoted above, p. 31). Cfr. De 
Meester, op. ext., p. 155; Denis Rudolph Kiwicz (Kiwitz), Hallowing of a 
church (studies in the Russian Euchologion. Part I), Rome : Pontificium Insti- 
tutum Orientalium Studiorum, 1954, P- 54 » Nikodemos Milasch and Ale- 
xander Pessic, Das Kirchenrecht der Morgenlandischen Kirche, Mostav : Pacher 
and Kisic, 1905, p. 241, 374. 

5 P.G. 155 : 333- 

6 Thus Braun, op. cit., I, p. 96 ; De Meester, op. cit., p. 159 ; Lubeck, 
op. cit., p. 409, Pedalion (Cummings), p. 438 ; DACL, col. 2326 ; P6trides, EO, 
pp. 198, 200 ; Salaville, op. cit., p. 154. 


"The 12th century practice of consecrating antimensia apart 
from the act of church consecration 7 made it possible for Si- 
meon of Saloniki 8 to allow also the consecration of antimensia 
by an ordinary priest who had special permission from the 
Bishop. This possibility (admitted by Simeon of Saloniki; was 
neither a general custom in his time, nor did it become one 
later. Rather did the consecration of antimensia remain the 
exclusive right of the Bishop." 9 

Thus Bishop Nikodemos Milasch and Alexander Pessic are correct 
in stating that "only a diocesan Bishop has the right to consecrate an- 
timensia." 10 

As far as the theological principle involved is concerned, it would 
not seem that the consecration of antimensia exceeds the consecrator • 
powers of the simple Priest, especially if he is delegated by a Bishop and 
this for two reasons : i) the opinion of St. Symeon of Thessalonica re- 
ferred to above ; even if it is not witness to a widespread practice, his 
statement would have been repudiated by his contemporaries and the 
succeeeding generations if it had been absolutely dissonant with Byzan- 
tine canonical tradition ; 2) In Latin Rite canonical tradition, fixed and 
portable altars may be consecrated by a properly delegated Priest using 
Chrism consecrated by a Bishop. 11 However, the fittingness of having 

7 Cfr. below, pp. 75-78. 

8 I.e. St. Symeon of Thessalonica. 

9 Kiwitz, op. cit., p. 56. 

10 Milasch and Pessic, op. cit., p. 241, cfr. also p. 374. 

11 The following Priests, even though they lack the episcopal character, 
enjoy by reason of their office the privilege of consecrating fixed altars in the 
Latin Rite, according to the Pian-Benedictan Code of Canon Law : Cardinals for 
altars of their Title (c. 1155, 1) ; Abbots Nullius and Prelates (Nullius) in their 
territory (c. 323, 2). Similarly, the following Priests can consecrate portable altars 
in the Latin Rite : Cardinals (c. 239, 1, n. 20), Vicars Apostolic and Prefects 
Apostolic in their territories and during their tenure of Office (c. 294, 2). Under 
certain circumstances, Local Ordinaries may delegate their Priest subjects to 
consecrate portable altars ; cfr. Pastorale Munus, n. 27. For a more complete 
theological and Canonical discussion of this problem, cfr. Thaddeus S. Ziol- 
kowski, The Consecration and Blessing of Churches, Washington, D.C. : The 
Catholic University of America Press, 1943 (Canon Law Studies no 187), pp. 7S- 
101. Cfr. also Bartholomaeus Belluco, o.f.m., Novissimae Ordinariorum Locorum 
Facultares, Rome: Pontificium Athnaeum Antonianum, 1964, pp. 147-152; Bliley, 
op. cit., pp. 78-81, 103-105 ; Pacificus Capobianco, o.f.m., Privilegia et Facul- 
tates Ordinis Fratrum Minorum, Rome : Pontificium Athenaeum Antonianum, 
1961, p. 267 ; John Linus Paschang, The Sacramentals According to the Code of 


a simple Priest consecrate antimensia, outside of the case of true necessity 
during times of persecution, etc., may be seriously doubted. Since the 
antimension is a true altar, 12 and is made for the purpose of having the 
Bishop' consecratory power felt in a place to which he is hindered for 
some reason from going personally, it represents the union of a Bishop 
with his College of Presbyters and with his flock, and as such always be 
consecrated by the Bishop himself, whenever possible. Thus Protopope 
Giuseppe Ferrari says : 

" is certain, however, that the whole Byzantine Church 
considers as schismatic the Priest who celebrates without an 
antimension. In fact, as is clear from the Office of the De- 
dication of a Church (Enkainia), the antimension consecrated 
by a Bishop and sealed and signed by him, has from earliest 
times been considered as a type of "Celebret," a document of 
attestation for the Priest, who, by means of the same, partici- 
pates, in a certain way, in the Apostolic Succession, through his 
Bishop. These (Bishops) sending (an antimension by) a Priest 
from the Cathedral to a village, furnish it with an object guaran- 
teeing the bond of unity ; and no other object could seem more 
fitting to symbolize the veil which envelopes and ties together 
the Mystical Body of Christ, than the Shroud which enfolds His 
physical Body. To celebrate, therefore, without an antimension 
signifies, according to the Byzantine mentality, the fulfilling 
of the most sublime and august liturgical action outside of the 
Apostolicity, the Catholicity, the very unity of the Church ! 
It is the antimension, then, which for us in the Eucharistic 
Synaxis, unites the Priest with his Bishop, and through the 
Bishop, with the Apostles and Christ." 13 

Canon Law, Washington, D.C. : The Catholic University of Washington Press, 
1925, pp. 50-55. Furthermore, it seems that the Apostolic See of Rome has 
sometimes, though very rarely and in case of extreme necessity, given to priests 
(lacking the episcopal character) the faculty to consecrate even the Holy Chrism. 
Cfr. Bullarium Franciscanum, I, p. 417, n. 868 where Pope Eugene IV on Ja- 
nuary 29, 1445, gave this faculty to the Franciscan (Friars Minor) Vicar of Bosnia 
(in Jugoslavia : "Bosniae Argentinae") ; cfr. also : L. Buijs, Facilitates Ordina- 
riorum et Legatorum Sanctae Sedis in Missionibus necnon Facilitates et Gratiae 
pro America Latina et Insulis Phillipinis ; Rome: Apud Aedes Universitatis Gre- 
gorianae, 1963, pp. 28-29 ; Ting Pong Lee, op. cit., p. 104 ; Paschang, op. cit., 
p. 60, note 17. 

18 Cfr. below, p. 105 ff. 

18 Ferrari, op. cit., p. 107 : "...certo b per6 che tutta la Chiesa Bizantina 
considera quale scismatico un sacerdote che celebrasse senza 'Avxiuivatov. In- 
fatti, come appare chiaro daH'Umcio degli ' Eyxoctvia, sin dai primissimi secoli 


We may note here that antimensia, because of their light weight 
and small size when folded, are often sent by registered airmail to distant 
parts of dioceses and mission territories, etc. 

3. Nicepboros, 13a John of Kitros 14 and Matthew Blastares 15 not<: 
that the antimension, like other sacred things such as Holy Myron (Chrism), 
can be sent outside the confines of the diocese of the Bishop who conse- 
creates it. 

4. Patriarch Nil Kerameus of Constantinople (1380-1388) says 
that not only the Patriarch, but also all Metropolitans and Bishops have 
the right to consecrate antimensia. 16 

5. Cardinal Coussa enumerates under the rights of the Melkite 
Catholic Patriarch that he alone consecrates antimensia for his whole 
patriarchate. 17 However, the local Melkite synods which he cites as hi^ 

1'EIXtjt6v consacrato dal Vescovo e segnato dal suo sigillo e dalla sua firma, 
veniva considerato come una specie di "celebret", un documento di garanzia per 
il Sacerdote, che, per mezzo di esso, partecipava, in certo qual modo, della suc- 
cessione apostolica, tramite il proprio Vescovo. Questi, inviando un presbitero 
dalla Cattedrale al villaggio, lo munisce di un oggetto di garanzia e di collega- 
mento, per assicurare l'unita ; e nessun oggetto poteva sembrare piu idoneo a 
simboleggiare il velo che avvolge e lega in uno il Corpo Mistico di Cristo, della 
Sindone che avvolge il Suo Corpo reale, Celebrare, pertanto, senza 'AvTiuivatov, 
significa, nel concetto bizantino, compiere la piu sublime ed augusta azione li- 
turgica, avolsi dalla Apostolicita, dalla Cattolicita, dalla Unita della Chiesa ! 
Per noi e dunque l* 'Avxiuivaiov che, nella Sinassi Eucaristica, unisce il Sacerdote 
al Vescovo e per il Vescovo agli Apostoli e al Cristo." Archpriest Alexander 
Schmemann writes in the same vein in his scholarly article "Antimins" (in 
Russian), Canadian Orthodox Calendar for the Year 1972 (vol. 21), Montreal- 
Toronto : Diocesan Council of the Orthodox Church in Canada, 51-55. 

13a Canon 95, loc. cit. 

14 P.G. 119 : 974. 

18 P.G. 144 : 1059. 

16 He adds that the faithful must show the antimensia the same honor as 
the fixed consecrated altars of churches. Rhallis and Potlis, STNTATMA, V, 
pp. 141-142 ; M. Gideon, Kavovixal Siaxa^eig II, p. 57. Cfr. also Lubeck, op. 
cit., p. 407 ; P6trides, DACL, col. 2321 ; Petrides, EO, p. 197. 

17 Acacius Cardinalis Coussa, b.s., Epitome Praelectionum De lure Ec- 
clesiastico Orientali, vol. I, Grottaferrata (Rome) : Typis Monasterii Exarchici 
Cryptoferratensis, 1948, p. 77 : "Antimensia solus, pro universo patriarchatu, 
consacrat. (Ita fert Melkitarum ius)." Lubeck, op. cit., p. 412, observes that 
the Melkites differ from the practice of the Greek mother-Church in this matter, 
and that the exact time of origin of Melkite local custom is unknown : he adds 
that the Bishop of Aleppo has consecrated antimensia on his own without de- 
legation of the Melkite Patriarch, it would seem that this reserved right of the 
Patriarch is not recognized by the whole Melkite Episcopate. "Abweichend hier- 


authority 18 were never approved by the Holy See and can be considered, 
as he himself emarks about them elsewhere, 19 only as witnesses to the 
traditions and customs among the Melkites. Thus, Fr. Martimort is 
incomplete when he says that antimensions are "blessed by the Pa- 
triarch. " 20 

6. In regard to Oriental Catholics, the motu proprio of Pope 
Pius XII, Cleri Sanctitati (June 2, 1957) containing the codification of 
the Oriental Canon Law concerning Persons, has the following : 

"Canon 285, 1. Patriarchs enjoy the following privileges 
and faculties, if particular law gives them the same : i° to 
commit to a Priest, who has been raised to some particular 
dignity, the blessing of churches and altars, the conferring of 
minor orders, and the consecration of chalices, patens, and 
tablets." 21 

It would seem that this does not include the Byzantine Rite be- 
cause f) there is no particular law conferring this privilege upon By- 
zantine Patriarchs ; in fact from the Melkite custom cited by Cardinal 
Coussa above, the tendency 22 would seem to be to restrict the right of 

von wirdin der melchitischen Kirche die Weihe der Antimensien nicht mehr von 
den Bischofen vorgenommen. Diese ist vielmehr zu einem Feservatrechte des 
Patriarchen geworden. Seit wann, lasst sich nicht mit Genauigkeit bestimmen : 
nxiert erscheint dasselbe erstmals auf der melchitischen Nationalsynode von 
Qarqafe (1806). Wie lange zuvor aber bereits der melchitische Patriarch de facto 
dieses Recht ausgeiibt hatte, ist nicht mahr zu ermitteln. Hervorgehoben zu 
werden verdient noch, dass naturgemass der Patriarch auch einen seiner Bischofe 
zur Konserkration von Antiminsien bevollmachtigen kann. Uber in einem sol- 
chen Falle darf nicht der Name des Konsekranten auf die Antimensien eingetra- 
gen werden, sondern nur derjenige des delegierenden Patriarchen." 

18 Synodsu SS. Salvatoris Melkitarum, an. 1790, sess. 25, litt. m) ; Sy- 
nodus Ain-Trazenis Melkitarum anno 191 1 (sic), n. 180. 

19 Coussa, op. cit., p. 144. 

20 A. G. Martimort, L'Eglise en Priire (3eme edition revue et corrigee), 
Tournai : Desclee & Cie., 1965, p. 180 : "Cependant les Orientaux se contentent 
d'un antimension, etoffe orn6e, benite par le patriarche, comportant un sachet 
des reliques." 

21 AAS, 49 (1957), 433 _00 3 : "Can. 284 : I. Patriarchis, si iure particulari 
ipsis tribunatur, sequentia insuper privelegia et facultates competunt : i° Com- 
mitendi presbytero, in dignitate constituto, ecclesiarum altariumve benedictio- 
nem, minorum ordinum collationem, calicum, patenarum, tabularum conse- 

22 At least among the Melkites. 

6 1 

consecrating antimensia even further, to the Patriarch himself and much 
less to a simple priest ; 2) the canon uses the expression "Tablet" which 
seems to refer to the wooden portable altar of the Syrian tradition 23 and 
not to the antimension, an interpretation which is further substantiated 
by the fact that the canonical sources cited under the canon refer to a 
Lebanese Synod of the Maronites 24 held in 1736, and not to any Byzan- 
tine discipline. 25 

In the preparatory schemata for the codification of the section 
"Concerning Sacred Things" (De Rebus) of the Byzantine Catholic 

23 The portable altar of the Syrian tradition is a small tablet of wood, 
without relics, consecrated with Chrism by a Bishop, and having written on it in 
the form of a cross : "The Holy Trinity has consecrated this 'tablit' in the year 
by the "hands of the Bishop. N.N. :" cfr. Braun, op. cit., I, p. 519 ; Brightmax, 
op. cit., p. 569 ; Korolevskij, op. cit., p. 498 ; Faes, op. cit., pp. 66-68 ; Rahmani, 
op. cit., pp. 47-49. In the Alexandrian tradition (Copts and Ethiopians), wooden 
tablets, without relics, consecrated with Chrism by a bishop and bearing incised 
inscriptions and decorations are also used ; cfr. Braun, op. cit., I, pp. 97-100 
(includes a drawing of Coptic tablet on p. 99) ; Alfred Butler, The Ancient 
Coptic Churches of Egypt, 2 vols., Oxford : The Clarendon Press, 1884, vol. I, 
p. 3 and passim ; Brightman, op. cit., pp. 569-570 ; Raes, op. cit., pp. 68-70. 
Salaville, Introduction, pp. 152, 157. Cfr. 5elow, p. 431. 

24 The Maronites, who live chiefly in Lebanon and who are all Catholics, 
follow a Rite which has its origins in the Western branch of the Syrian Rite ; 
cfr. Donald Attwater, The Christian Churches of the East, volume I : Churches 
in Communion with Rome (revised edition ; Milwaukee, Wisconsin : The Bruce 
Publishing Co., 1961, pp. 158-162; Alphonsus Raes, s.j., Introduction in Li- 
turgiam Orientalem, Rome : Pont. Institutum Orientalium Studiorum, 1947. 
pp. 11-12. Thus Victor J. Pospishil, Code of Oriental Canon Law : The Law 
on Persons, an English Translation and Differential Commentary, Philadelphia : 
America Press, i960, p. 143 comments on Can. 285, i° of Cleri Sanctitati cited 
above : "Such faculties are granted by particular law to the Patriarch of the 
Maronites, that group among Orientals which was longest under Latin Rite 
influence. He can permit to simple priests to consecrate churches and altars 
Particular law granting such privileges to the Patriarch can be enacted also in 
the future, although the granting of such authority to simple priests by a ju- 
risdictional act, and not through ordination (cheirotonia) or benediction (cheiro- 
tesia), is against the tradition of the Christian East." 

25 It must be remembered that Cleri Sanctitati, which forms part of the 
projected Oriental Code of Canon Law, is "over-ritual law" and includes all the 
Oriental Rites and not just the Byzantine Rite ; therefore some things found in 
it may be in contrast to the authentic Byzantine discipline and that is why 
allowances are made for particular law; cfr. Meletius M. Wojnar, o.s.b.m., 
The Code of Oriental Canon Law De Ritibus Orientalibus and De Personis 
Washington, D.C. The Catholic University of America Press, 1959. PP 1-0 


Discipline, not yet promulgated, the consecration of antimensia is strictly 
limited to a Bishops. 26 

7. Suming up the above, then, we may state the following : 

1) The consecration of the antimension is the right of all diocesan 

2) However, the consecration of antimensia does not seem to exceed 
the consecratory powers of the simple priest delegated by the local ordinary 
for this purpose. 

3) But the nearly constant tradition of the Byzantine churches 
repudiates the fittingness of the consecration of antimensia by a simple 
priest, outside the case of extreme necessity. 

II. Formalities of the Rite of Consecration 

A. Occasion and Composition of Ceremonial for Consecration 

1. The early Canonists and Commentatos, such as Theodore Bal- 
samon 27 and Manuel, Patriarch of Constantinople 28 testify that antimen- 
sions were consecrated only upon the occasion of the consecration of a 
fixed altar and church, since in the primitive rite they were made from 
the cloths used by the Bishop to dry the fixed consecrated altar after it 
had been anointed with scented wine and Holy Myron (Chrism) on the 

26 Cfr. Codificazione Canonica Orientale, torn. VI (cc. 10 12-1254) : C. Pascalef 
(Prot. N. 224/33; Bulgari) in regard to the Bulgarian Discipline, remarks on p. 2: 
"It is the Bishop alone who has the power to consecrate antimensia" ("C'est 
l'6veque seul qui a le pouvoir de consacrer les antimensia.") Cyril Koralevskij 
(Prot. N. 254/33 ; Disciplina Bizantina in Generale e Greci), p. 15 says apropos 
the Byzantine Bite in general, and the Greek branch in particular : "The con- 
secration of antimensia is exclusively reserved to the Bishop, and if any Archi- 
mandrites have ever consecrated antimensia it was done by abuse... it was con- 
trary to all the oriental tradition and it is to be hoped that it will never be re- 

27 Ca. 1 1 70 A.D. ; P.G. 137 : 613-616 : "Antimensia are made by Bishops 
when they consecrate a church." 

28 XIII, c. ; P.G. 119 : 809 : "We know that antimensia are made after 
the consecration of a church by a Bishop, from the cloth which was used on the 
altar, which is cut into pieces and signed (by the Bishop) and given to Priests, 
without which they cannot offer the Sacrifice ;" cfr. also the Notes of William 
Beveridge (Guill. Beveregii notae), P.G. 137 : 613-616. 


occasion of its solemn consecration by the Bishop. 29 In fact, John of 
Kitros condemns severely the consecration of antimensions outside the 
the consecration of a fixed altar and Church, which shows that this 
practice was already known, saying : 

"It is not permitted to make antimensia in any other way 
except during the hallowing 30 of a new church ; those are 
mistaken who through innovation prepare them in any other 
way, becoming transgressors of ecclesiastical traditions and 
offering, as it is said, gifts which are not truly gifts but instead 
useless/' 31 

By the time of St. Symeon of Thessalonica (d. 1429), however, the 
consecration of antimensia even apart from the consecration of a fixed 
altar was already in common use. 32 It is easy to understand the ne- 
cessity for this as (unconsecrated) oratories multiplied while on the other 
hand, there already existed enough consecrated churches and not many 
new ones were being built and hallowed ; consequently the demand for 
antimensia could not keep up with the supply to be had on the now rare 
occasion of the consecration of an altar. This new ceremony, as we will 
see below, imitated in almost all particulars the consecration of fixed 

2. Regarding the composition of the Byzantine Order for the Con- 
secration of a Fixed Altar, Archimandrite Placidus De Meester, o.s.B., 
distinguishes in his monumental study, Rituale-Benedizionale Bizantino, 33 
three distinct types of offices, which may be classified as follows : 

29 It should be noted that the consecration or "hallowing" of a church in 
the Byzantine Rite, just as in the Latin Rite, always includes the consecration 
of the fixed altar by the Bishop, and so sometimes the terms consecration of 
churches and consecration of altars are used synonymously. Cfr. De Meester, 
op. ext., pp. 159-160, 233-234. 

30 Kiwicz, op. cit., p. 45 prefers "hallowing" as the English translation 
of the Greek "Kathierosis" (xa6i£pcD<u<;) and the Paleoslavic "osvjascjenije" 
(ocBflmeHHe) ; for his reasons cfr. op. cit., pp. 45~54 I in brief, he opts for "hal- 
lowing" because this word can comprise the multiple acts which can be grouped 
under kathierosis and osvjascjenije, such as the consecration, dedication and 
opening of a church ; 

31 P.G. 119 : 976. Cfr. also Amanieu, DDC, col. 586 ; Petrides, EO, p. 195. 

32 Cfr. Symeon of Thessalonica, P.G. 155 : 3 X 3> 332 ; also De Meester, 
op. cit., p. 234. 

33 Op. cit., De Meester, pp. 233-239. 

6 4 

1) The Allation Type because it is contained in the Codex Allatianus 
and related Mss. of the XIV-XV c. ; 34 this type was published by James 
Goar in his Euchologion (Venice, 1730). 35 

2) The Sinaitic Type which is contained in the Codex Sinaiticus 
N. 993 (XVI c.) ; 36 the ceremony described by St. Symeon of Thessalo- 
nica 37 and that presently used by the Russian Church 38 closely resemble 
the Sinaitic Type. 

3) The Greek-Venetian Type because this type is found in the Ve- 
netian editions 39 (XVII-XIX cc.) of the Greek Euchologion, and repro- 
duced by Goar 40 as the Office used by the Greek Church at his time ; this 
type was adopted by the Roman edition 41 of the Greek Euchologion. 

34 Loc. cit., pp. 234-239. 

35 Goar, op. cit., pp. 518-519 ; on p. 518 Goar notes that of the ancient 
MSS. known to him, only the Codex Allatianus contains an office for the con- 
secration of antimensia apart from the hallowing of a church. The ETXOAOriON 
TO META {Euchologion to Mega-Greek, meaning "large Prayer-Book") is a 
liturgical book of the Greek Church (Catholic and Orthodox), a combination 
Missal-Pontifical-Ritual, in which the Office for the consecration of antimensia is 
found. Its equivalent in the churches using Paleoslav is the Hhhobhhkb (ci- 
novnik - book of services). Sometimes extracts from these books, containing 
blessings and occasional services performed by priests are called in Greek 
ETXOAOriON (Euchologion - without the title "large" or "great" - TO META) 
or in Paleoslav : Tpe6HHKi> (Trebnik : "That which is needed to celebrate"). 

36 De Meester, op. cit., pp. 235, 237-238 : "which, of the various types, 
resembles most closely the consecration of a fixed altar." 

37 P.G. 155 : 332-333 ; cfr. also De Meester, op. cit., p. 239. 

38 The Russian ceremonial for the consecration of antimensia outside of 
the consecration of a fixed altar is much longer than the corresponding Greek 
Office and is very similar to that described by Symeon of Thessalonica ; thus, as 
in many other cases, the Russian Church has preserved the more primitive prac- 
tices originally inherited from the Greek Church - De Meester, op. cit., p. 235 ; 
Petrides, DACL, col. 2326 ; Petrides, EO, p. 201. 

39 While under Turkish occupation, the Greek Church was prevented from 
printing any books in Greece ; many Greeks fled to Italy and particularly to 
Venice where they set up Greek printeries in which liturgical books for the whole 
Petrides, DACL, col. 2326 ; Petrides, EO, p. 201. We might further note that 
the Russian Church follows the Typikon of St. Sabbas (of Jerusalem) as did all 
the branches of the Byzantine Church until the publication of the "Typikon of 
the Great Church (of Constantinople) which was an innovation introduced into 
the Patriarchate of Constantinople at the end of the XIX c. Cfr. Alexander 
Schmemann, Introduction to Liturgical Theology, trans. A. E. Moorhouse, Lon- 
don : The Faith Press, Ltd., 1966, passim. 

40 Goar, op. cit., pp. 517-518. 

41 Cfr. De Meester, op. cit., p. 235, also EYXOAOITON TO META 
Rome : Tipografia Polyglotta (Vaticana), 1873, pp. 328-330. 


Today, antimensia may be consecrated either on the occasion of 
the consecration of a fixed altar during the ceremonies for the hallowing 
of a church, or outside of these circumstances 42 by means of a special 
rite which imitates the consecration of an altar and is contained in the 
Byzantine Equivalents of the Pontifical. 43 

B. Preparations Necessary for the Consecration 

The following objects are to be prepared for the consecration of 
antimensia : 

1. The antimension or antimensia which is /are to be consecrated : 
a piece or pieces of linen or silk with the Deposition from the Cross and /or 
entombment depicted upon them, and the other details mentioned above 
in chapter three. 44 

2. Small cloth bags which will be used to contain the relics ; as 
we will see below, these may either be sewn to the antimensia before or 
during the ceremony of consecration. It is more practical to do so be- 
forehand both to have the aid of skilled feminine hands (only major 
clerics may touch an antimension after consecration) 45 and also to save 
time if there are many. 

3. Particles of authentic Sacred Relics of one or more Sainted 
Martyrs. 46 

42 The Greek Church in modern times makes little use of the ceremony 
for the consecration of antimensia outside the consecration of a fixed altar, whe- 
reas the Russian, Ukranian, and Ruthenian Churches make extensive use of it. 
Cfr. De Meester, op. cit., p. 159 ; Nikolskij, Ustav, p. 707 ; Pedalion, pp. 437- 
438 ; Petrides, DTC, Col. 1391 ; Shipman, op. cit., p. 564. 

43 Cfr. De Meester, op. cit., pp. 174-181, 233-239 ; Kiwitz, op. cit., pp. 30- 
41 ; Lubeck, op. cit., p. 413 ; Petrides, DTC, col. 1391 ; Petrides, EO, pp. 200- 
202. Also cfr. above p. 64, note 35. 

44 Cfr. above, pp. 33 ff. Sometimes a special dignitary, experienced in 
these matters, is entrusted with the task of preparing the unconsecrated anti- 
mensia and the materials necessary for their consecration. In the Great Church 
(Constantinople) this is the <5cpxov t&v ^ocXtjouov (archon ton ekklesion - over- 
seer of the church, or "ecclesiarch") - Petrides, EO, p. 199- In the Russian Church 
it is the Kjno^ap-b (klyucar - Sacristan or "keykeeper") or an experienced priest 
to whom this honor falls according to the choice of the bishop - Nikolskij, 
Antimins, ch. IX ; Archpriest Alexios Maltzew, Begrabnis-Ritus und einige 
specielle und alterthumliche Gottesdienste der Orthodox-Katholischen Kirche des 
Morgenlandes (Berlin : Karl Siegismend, 1898), part II, p. 144. 

45 Cfr. below, pp. 141-144. 

46 Nothing is mentioned about requirements of authentication - this 
concept is not as developed as in Latin Rite Canon Law. Cfr. above pp. 53-54 

6 - J. M. Izzo - The Antimension 


4. Holy Myron (Chrism) 47 and a small brush or rod to be used to 
apply the Myron to the antimensia. 

5. Wax-mastic 48 and some means to heat the same if necessary 
to make it more pliable (otherwise it can be warmed in the hands of one 
of the assistants who works it with his fingers until soft enough). 

47 The Holy Myron, is the Sacred Chrism of the Byzantine Rite, composed 
of olive oil, balsam (balm), and about 55 other herbs, flowers, and essences pain- 
stakingly prepared (it must be cooked continuously, day and night, while the 
Holy Gospels are read over it, from Holy Monday morning until Holy Wed- 
nesday afternoon). It is consecrated by the Patriarch (or a Bishop in those 
branches of the Byzantine Rite not subject to a Patriarch) during the Divine 
Liturgy on Holy Thursday. Myron means "perfume" in Greek, and the Byzan- 
tine Myron is very fragrant. Cfr. L. Petit, "Composition et consecration du saint- 
chreme", Les Echos d'Orient, III (1899-1900), pp. 129-142. The Holy Myron is 
applied to the antimension by the Bishop who consecrates it, not with his thumb, 
but with a small brush or rod ; thus : Hhhobhhkt> ApxHepefiCKaro CBHmeHHOC- 
JiyweHMH (Cinovnik Arkhierejskago Svjascennosluzenia), Jordanville, New York: 
Holy Trinity Monastery Press, 1965, pp. 136, 141 ; Consecration et Inauguration 
d'Une Eglise Selon Le Rituel De L'Eglise Russe, Chevtogne : Monastere de Chev- 
togne, 1957, P- 2f > > Isabel Florence Hapgood, Service Book of the Orthodox- 
Catholic Apostolic Church (III ed.), Brooklyn, New York : Syrian Antiochean 
Orthodox Archdiocese, 1956, p. 493 ; Maltzew, op. cit., pp. 115, 129 : G. Mon- 
tague, "Use of the Antimension", Irish Ecclesiastical Review (V Series), 73 
(May 1950), p. 456 mistakes the Greek word Mupov (myron) for au-upva (smyrna : 
Myrrh) when, speaking of the consecration of the Byzantine antimension, he says: 
" is anointed three times with myrrh". 

48 Wax-mastic (Greek K/jpou-aaxtxY) - Keromastike) , (Slavonic BocKOMa- 
cthkt> - Voskomastik), (Latin Ceromasticum) is a type of cement used to enclose 
the relics and fix them firmly in the small bags. Sometimes the cloth bags are also 
afhxed to the antimensia with wax-mastic but this is now rare because it is safer 
to sew the cloth sacks to the antimensia. The wax-mastic is made by heating 
together pure bees-wax, mastic (a resin from the tree Pistacia Lentiscus culti- 
vated principally on the island of Chios, Greece ; it is much prized by the Greeks 
as a natural chewing gum), myrrh, aloes, frankincense (olibanum), and marble 
dust. Some Rose oil or essence (Attar of Roses), is often added. The amount of 
wax should be approximately equal to the weight of the other substances taken 
together, which, among themselves, should be of equal quantites. They are 
melted and boiled together for about 20 minutes and then allowed to cool. The 
wax-mastic, according to the proportion of the ingredients, should remain some- 
what flexible and adhesive, easily workable with the heat of the hands ; it 
should not be so soft as to melt with the heat of the summer nor so stiff as to 
crack easily with the cold of the winter. Cfr. Cinovik (Jordanville), pp. 136- 
137 ; Consecration Et Inauguration D'Une Eglise Selon Le Rituel De V Eglise Russe, 
op. cit., p. 17 ; De Meester, op. cit., pp. 185, 189 ; Goar, Euchologion, pp. 493, 
655-656 ; Korolevskij, op. cit., p. 498 ; Gaetano Moroni, "Corporale", Di- 

6 7 

6. Rose-water 49 or good church wine 60 or both 61 in container(s) 
with aspergil for sprinkling the same after it has been blessed. 

zionario di Erudizione Ecclesiastica (Venice : Tipografia Emiliana, 1842), vol. 
XVII, p. 248 ; Nikolskij, Ustav, p. 800 ; Salaville, Introduction, pp. 133-134. 
A. J. Schulte, "Altar", Catholic Encyclopedia (New York : Robert Appleton 
Co., 107), vol. I, p. 348, quotes Neale (John Mason Neale, A History of the 
Holy Eastern Church, London : Joseph Masters, 1850, p. 187 ; this work was 
inaccessible to me) as saying : "the antimins is stiffened with a mixture of relics 
and wax or fragrant gum pounded together;" this statement would seem to be 
mistaken : while clearly referring to the wax-mastic, it implies that this is used 
to stiffen the whole antimension and not just to enclose the relics in the small 
pouch ; furthermore, the relics are not pounded together with the other ingre- 
dients ; the wax-mastic consists of a mixture of wax and fragrant gums (including 
mastic)>. From the list of the ingredients of which the wax-mastic is composed, 
it may be seen that the important ingredients are wax, mastic and perhaps 
marble dust (which acts as binder and renders the mixture more rodent and insect 
resistant) to form a useful and pliable cement ; the other ingredients have sym- 
bolic value : 1) the antimension, as we mentioned above, represents the Burial 
Shroud of Christ, and thus in the wax-mastic are mixed myrrh and aloes such 
as were used to prepare the Body of our Lord for burial {John, 19 : 39) and 
marble dust as a symbol of the rock-hewn sepulcher and the stone which closed 
it. The other fragrant substances also symbolize the sweet spices used to anoint 
Jesus' Body. 2) The adhesive quality of the wax-mastic symbolizes Christ's 
love for and union with man. Thus St. Symeon of Thessalonica, P.G. 155 : 
312 (who is the first to specifically mention the use of wax-mastic) ; cfr. also 
De Meester, op. ext., p. 185; Hapgood, op. ext., p. 614 and above pp. 21-22, 52. 

49 The modern Russian Euchologia and the Sinatic Type of formulae pre- 
scribe rose-water, called "rhodostamos" (Greekpo8ocTau.6?, Slavonic poaocraMa - 
rodostamata) ; cfr. Cinovnik, p. 136 ; De Meester, op. cit., pp. 186, 196, 238 ; 
Maltzew, op. cit,m p. 115. If authentic rose-water is unavailable, a substitute 
may be made by shaking up together water and a few drops of rose-essence. 

50 Cinovnik, loc. cit., and Maltzew, loc. ext., (therefore modern usage of 
Russian Church) mention "good church-wine" as a substitute for rose-water 
where this is unavailable. Cfr. also De Meester, op. cit., pp. 186, 196. The 
church-wine (altar wine) used by the Russian Church (and the Byzantine Church 
in general), is always red wine, as befits the Eucharistic symbolism ; cfr. Ni- 
kolskij, Ustav, pp. 802, 814, 818. 

61 Some sources mention perfumed wine (probably a mixture of wine and 
rose-water) which they call oivaOr) (oinathe), in contradistinction to ordinary 
wine olvo? (oinos), thus: Consecration Et Inauguration D'Une Eglise Selon Le 
RituelDeL'EgliseRusse,op. cit., pp. 9 23-25; ETXOAOITON TO META, op. ext., 
pp. 186, 235. Others mention explicitly a mixture of wine and rose-water; 
Hapgood, op. cit., pp. 493, 497, 498, 614 ; Hieromonk Anthony Koren, s.j., 
KaK CBHTHTb XpaM H ero IIpnHaHJie>KHOCTH {Kak Svjatit Khram i Jevo Pri- 
nadljelnosti ; mimeographed ; Rome : Pontificium Collegium Russicum, 1962), 


y. Euchologion or Cinovnik (i.e. Byzantine Pontifical). 52 

8. A cloth apron 53 for the Bishop to wear over his vestments to 
protect them, and suitable cloths and/or sponges 54 to wipe up stray 
Myron, blessed aromatic wine, etc. 

9. Pen and ink with which the Bishop will sign the antimensia at 
the end of the ceremony. 55 

pp. 11, 14, 17, 18; Tpe6HHKT> (Trebnik : "ritual"; Recensio Vulgata pro Russis, 
Bulgaris, Serbis ; 5 vols. ; Vatican City (Rome) : Libreria Editrice Vaticana 
(Press of Italo-Greek Monstery of Grottaf errata), 1945-1953), vol. Ill (1951), 
pp. 173, 182, 183. 

52 The Echologion, as we noted above on p. 103, is the Greek Byzantine 
Missal-Pontifical-Ritual. The Slavonic recension of the Byzantine Pontifical 
is called the Cinovnik. While the Greek Euchologion contains both the service 
for the hallowing of a Church (and hence the consecration of antimensia on the 
occasion of the consecration of a fixed altar) and also that for the consecration 
of antimensia apart from the consecration of a fixed altar, the Slavonic Cinovnik 
contains the consecration of antimensia apart from a fixed altar but omits the 
hallowing of a church; this latter ceremony is to be found in the Trebnik (Ritual) 
and also published separately as an extract. Cfr. Kiwicz, op. cit., pp. 23-24 ; 
Koren, op. cit., pp. 1-2, 10. 

53 Called in Greek aa(3avov (savanon) and in Slavonic CpaHHiia (sracica) ; 
it is a white cloth (silk for Bishops ; linen for concelebrating Priests) apron fa- 
stened with three pairs of ribbons or cord : around the neck, around the chest, 
and around the waist ; this apron reaches to the feet and preserves the Bishop's 
vestments from being soiled. It was already used in the time of St. Symeon of 
Thessalonica (d. 1430), who treats of its symbolism (P.G. 155 : 309). Cfr. De 
Meester, op. cit., pp. 184, 191 ; Goar, op. cit., pp. 305-306, 602-668 ; Hapgood, 
op. cit., pp. 494, 613 ; Nikolskij, Ustav, p. 6, 805, 813 ; Salaville, op. cit., p. 157. 
In the Cinovnik, loc. cit., and Maltze w,op. cit., pp. 116-117, the sraiica is called 
a ji6hthoht> (lention : towel) and two towels are fastened around the Bishop's 
arms also ; Nikolskij, Ustav, p. 813 equates the sracica and lention, and gives also 
the name 3anom> (zapon). 

54 These cloths and/or sponges are often cut up into pieces after the ce- 
remony and given to the assisting clergy and faithful as sacred souvenirs. Cfr. 
De Meester, op. cit., pp. 222-223, Consecration Et Inauguration D'Une Eglise 
Selon Le Rituel De U Eglise Russe, p. 25 ; Salaville, op. cit., p. 156. Cfr. also 
below, p. 79. 

65 Special rubber-stamps can be made up to record the year, month and 
date, and the name and title of the Bishop consecrator, but afterwards the 
Bishop should sign each antimensia by hand. One supposes that a stamp bearing 
the signature of the Bishop could be used in the case where there is a great 
quantity of antimensia to be signed, but this would seem to be less consonant 
with the tradition requiring the signing of each antimension by the Bishop him- 

6 9 

C. The Ceremony of Consecration 

I. In the primitive rite, 56 the antimensia were made from the 
pieces of cloth used to wipe the altar after the Bishop had anointed it 
with blessed aromatic wine and Holy Myron ; these were cut into suitable 
pieces and signed by the Bishop 57 without any special prayers or ce- 
remonies, except that they remained on the newly consecrated fixed altar 
for seven days while the Divine Liturgy was celebrated on them. 58 

self, as mentioned above, p. 68. The ink should be permanent and waterproof, 
if possible. A laundrymarking pen with fine enough point would serve well. 

56 For primitive rite, cfr. : Reply of Patriarch Manuel Charitopolos of 
Constantinople to Metropolitan Romanos of Dyrrachium, P.G. 119 : 809 ; Wil- 
liam Beveridge, op. cit., P.G. 137 : 613 ; Symeon of Thessalonica, op. ext., 
P.G. 155: 313, 316; Amanieu, op. cit., col. 586-587; Braun, op. cit., I, pp. 
746-748 ; De Meester, op. cit., pp. 195-197, 523 ; Lubeck, op. cit., pp. 408- 
409, 411; P6trides, EO, pp. 197-200; Petrovskij, op. cit., col. 800; Raes, 
op. cit., p. 61. 

57 The word used by Patriarch Manuel Charitopoulos {op. cit., P.G. 119 : 
809) is Ypa? ^ ^ (graphomenou), which may signify "signed (written upon)" 
or "painted" in Byzantine Greek ; in Migne (P.G. 119 : 8iob) it is translated by 
the Latin word "scripto" with a variant reading of "picto" ; however it would 
seem logical to prefer the meaning "signed" or "inscribed" by the Bishop, as 
one would not imagine that the Bishop would attend to the artistic or iconografic 
amenities. Petrides (EO, p. 196) seems to prefer the latter interpretation while 
De Meester {op. cit., p. 233 simply says : "The pieces (of cloth) were ornamented 
with some design or picture to indicate their new use." "Si ornavano i pezzi di 
qualche disegno o pittura per indicare loro nuovo uso." De Meester does not 
mention whose task it is to ornament the antimension. Cfr. also Amanieu, op. 
cit., col. 586. We have seen above that from the XVIII century on, it became 
common to prepare antimensia beforehand with printed images and inscriptions. 
For some reason which he does not explain, Professor Lubeck twice {op. cit., 
pp. 406, 407) refers to above mentioned details given by Romanos, Metropolitan 
of Dyrrachium in his question to Patriarch Manuel, as a description of a "local 
Rite" ; yet it seems unusual to the present writer that in his reply, Patriach 
Manuel does not mention that this method of preparing antimensia was unknown 
in Constantinople ; Romanos seems to take it for granted that this rite was well- 
known for he says (P.G. 119 : 809) : "We know that antimensia are made, after 
a Bishop has performed a dedication (of a Church), from the cloth which was 
used around the altar (to wipe the altar), which is cut into pieces, inscribed, and 
given to priests : and without these they cannot perform the Sacrifice. Where 
these (antimensia) are lacking, what is to be done so that priests do not have to 
remain without celebrating the Holy Mysteries ?" (Manuel replies that antimen- 
sia are only necessary on non-consecrated or doubtfully consecrates altars V 

58 Cfr. John of Kitros, op. cit., P.G. 119: 976; Matthew Blastares, 
op. cit., P.G. 144 : 1060. According to the Byzantine mystique, the antimensia 

7 o 

Matthew Blastaris, in his Syntagma (1335 A.D.) is the first to note that 
the antimensia received a separate unction with Holy Myron (rather 
than merely being used to wipe up the Chrism with which the fixed altar 
was consecrated) ; 59 as we have seen in our section on the Ornamentation 
and Inscriptions (on the Antimension) , 60 it is at this time that the anti- 
mensia become more ornate, and it was no doubt felt necessary to prepare 
them in a special manner beforehand and thus they could no longer be 
used for wiping the altar for fear of ruining them - hence the necessity 
for a separate anointing. 

2. St. Symeon, Archbishop of Thessalonica (d. 1429) describes in 
his Concerning the Holy Temple and its Consecration, 61 the late medieval 
rite for consecrating antimensia : the Bishop prays for the descentof the 
the Holy Spirit upon the antimensia ; he then washes and sprinkles 
them, 62 and anoints them (with Holy Myron) three times in the form of 

(and other objects) are consecrated or blessed on a consecrated altar because 
they draw their "sanctification" from the altar itself. Thus John of Kitros (loc. 
cit.) explains antimensia and the sanctification residing in them : "They are 
placed on non-consecrated altars, because it is from the antimension that the 
non-consecrated altar and the sacrifice offered receive their blessing. An altar, 
once consecrated, sanctifies by itself gifts which are not holy in themselves. 
The word of the Lord in the Gospel is a witness to this when He says (Alt. 23 : 
17-19) that the altar and the temple are greater than the gifts and than the 
gold, for one sanctifies the gifts and the other the gold. If, therefore, a church 
is not consecrated, the sanctifying power (rj ayiacmxr) Suvapug) of the anti- 
mension supplies for this deficiency. This is why it is never permitted to cele- 
brate the Sacrifice without an antimension in a non-consecrated church : for 
how can the altar sanctify the gift, it has not itself been sanctified ?" This ex- 
plains why the antimensia must be consecrated upon an altar which itself has 
been consecrated and why it is preferable to leave them on the altar for seven 
days. Cfr. also Lubeck, op. cit., pp. 405, 413 ; Petrides, EO, pp. 195, 200, 
202 ; Raes, op. cit., p. 61. Cfr. below, pp. 78-79. 

69 Cfr. Matthew Blastaris, op. cit., P.G. 144 : 1288. 

80 Cfr. above, pp. 37 ff. 

61 IIEPI TOY 'AHOY NAOT. especially ch. 127 (P.G. 155; pp. 332-334). 

62 In imitation of what is done to the fixed altar itself when it is con- 
secrated. Later, as we have seen, the antimensia were no longer used to wipe 
the altar nor washed because of the danger of obliterating the already prepared 
design and inscriptions; thus Nikolskij (Ustav, p. 803) after saying that when 
consecrating an antimension everything is done to it which is done to a fixed 
altar at its consecration, notes the following exception : "Thus antimensia, being 
made of cloth, are not washed like the altar, but are sprinkled instead, for fear 
of damaging (cancelling out) the holy image on it." Cfr. also S. Diomidov, 
Ukazatiek arkhijerejskij slulenij (Samara : 1915), p. 184. 


a cross 63 while he sings "alleluia." Particles of Sacred Relics are anointed 
with Holy Myron and placed in a small cloth beg which is then sewn to 
the eastern side of the antimensia. 64 Symeon also describes other pieces 
of cloth sewn to the antimension, of which modern usage conserves only 
the most jejune vestiges, as will be discussed below under Ch5., Use 
of the Antimension, I. material aspect. 65 He also mentions that the Con- 
secrator wears an apron over his vestments. 66 As we have seen before, 
Symeon declares that all that is done to the Holy Table (fixed Altar) 
at its consecration is done to the antimension also. 67 

63 Goar (op. cit., p. 517) and, as we shall see below, the modern Pontificals 
specify that these crosses be made with the Holy Myron in the center of the top 
surface of the antimension and one on each side (i.e. left and right) of the top 
surface -(observe). Cfr. also Nikolskij, Ustav, p. 814. 

64 I.e. on the part fathest from the priest. Petrovskij, op. cit., col. 801, 
mentions that the cloth bag may be sewn either to the observe or to the reverse 
side of the antimension ; it is usually sewn to the reverse (underside) in modern 
times. Cfr. above, p. 52. 

65 See p. 105 ff. (already mentioned in the section on material pp. 

66 Cfr. p. 68, note 53, Above. 

67 P.G. 155 : 313, 333. Cfr. also : Matthew Blastaris, op. cit., P.G. 
144 : 1060 ; De Meester, op. cit., pp. 233-234, 237 ; Nikolskij, Ustav, p. 803. 
The ceremonies used in consecrating the altar (and therefore also the antimen- 
sion), especially the ablutions, the anointing with Myron, and the celebration 
of the Holy Mysteries upon it, are compared by the Byzantine commmentators 
to the reception of the Sacraments of Christian Initiation (Baptism, Confirma- 
tion and Eucharist). Thus Nicholas Cabasilas, Metropolitan of Thessalonica 
(d. 1371), in his Concerning Life in Christ which treats of the Sacraments of 
Christian Initiation, in Book 5 (P.G. 150 : 625-628) compares the rites of sprink- 
ling the altar and antimensia with wine and rose water, and the anointing of 
the same with Holy Myron (Chrism), with the Baptism and Confirmation of a 
Christian ; cfr. also : Consecration et Inauguration d'une Eglise, etc., p. 24 : 
Hapgood, op. cit., p. 614 : "As the Temple is fashioned after the image of our 
bodies, which are the temple of God (2 Cor. vi. 16) and members of Christ (j Cor. 
xii, 27), that rite which is performed at the Consecration resembles holy Baptism 
and holy Chrismation (Confirmation). Therefore at a Consecration, rose-water, 
the holy Chrism, white garments, and tapers are used ; and the building, like 
the font, is compassed about in procession) Symeon of Thessalonica (d. 1430), 
interprets (P.G. 155 : 316) the wine as a symbol of that which Melchisedech of- 
fered, the rosewater as the unguent of the sinful woman, and the use of Myron 
as the anointing of the Body of Christ for the grave." H. Leonard Pass (op. 
cit., p. 341) remaks : "A study of the earliest liturgical documents, dealing with 
the consecration of altars, reveals the fact that in the West two types of services 
existed side by side — the Roman and the Gallican ; the latter, as may be 


3. In regard to the modern Rite for the Consecration of Antimen- 
sia, we can give in a work of this nature only an outline ; the reader is 
directed to the Byzantine Pontificals of the various usages 68 and to 

expected, closely resembling the Byzantine formulae of dedication. Briefly, it 
may be said that the Roman rite is of a funerary character, while the Gallican 
and Eastern rites resemble the ceremonies of Christian initiation." Cfr. also 
J. B. O'Connell, "Consecration of Altar", NCE, pp. 351-352. 

68 In a work of the present scope it is possible to make only a survey of 
the principal liturgical literature ; in accordance with this principle, at least one 
source for each of the main branches of the Byzantine Rite has been given below. 
For a more detailed study of this field, the reader will find useful as a guide to 
the liturgical literature the following authors : Angel Santos Hernandez, 
Iglesias de Oriente, vol. II, Repertorio Bibliografico, Santander : Editorial Sal 
Terrae, 1963, pp. 362-384, 401-410, 419-426 ; 434-447, passim ; J. M. Sauget, 
Bibliographic des Liturgies Orientates (1900-1960) Rome : Pontificium Institu- 
tum Orientalium Studiorum, 1962, pp. 22, 29, 55-56, 59-61, 67-69, 79 ; Me- 
letius Michael Solovey, The Byzantine Divine Liturgy, History and Corn- 
mentary, Washington, D.C. : The Catholic University of America Press, 1970, 
passm, esp. pp. 27-97 (cfr. also the scholarly review of this book by Fr. Ro- 
bertaf, s.j. in Diakonia 8 (1973) : 164-178) ; Th. A. Vismas and Lucas Brink- 
hoff, Critical Bibliography of Liturgical Literature (English edition), Nijme- 
gen : Bestelcentrale der V.S.K.B. Publ., 1961, pp. 67-71 ; also De Meester, 
op. cit., pp. ix-cvn, 149-164, 166-244; Kiwitz, op. cit., pp. 15-24, 30-44. 
The following are the principal liturgical books consulted for the present 
work. For the Greek Church : ETXOAOriON TO META (Euchologion to 
Mega) (Greek Orthodox ; ed. Nicholas Pan. Papadopoulos) Athens : Michael I 
Saliveros, 1927, pp. 243-245 ; ETXOAOriON TO MET A (Euchologion to 
Mega) (Greek Catholic), Rome, Vatican Polyglot Press, 1873, pp. 228-330 ; 
Goar, op. cit., pp. 517-522, 655-671. For the melkite Church : The Great 
Euchologion (in Arabic), Jerusalem : Franciscan Fathers Press, 1865, pp. 207- 
210. For the Syrian Orthodox Church : The Larger Book of Needs (in Arabic, 
translated and compiled by Raphael Haweeny, Bishop of Brooklyn and Head 
of the Syrian Greek Orthodox Mission in North America), New York : The Daily 
Mirror Publishing House, 1913, pp. 604-614. For the Russian Church : Hhht> 
ApxnepettcKaro HettCTBa b o >k e ctb e h h li xt> JiHTypraft aHTHMHHCOBT> h UepBeft 
(Cin Arkhijerejskago Djejsva Bozestvennikh Liturij i osvjaScjenie Antiminsov 
i Cerkvei), Moscow : 1668 ; Hhhobhhkl ApxnepeftcKaro CBflmeHHOcjiyjKeHHH 
(Cinovnik Arkhijerejskago Svjascjennoslu2jenija), Warsaw : The Orthodox Me- 
tropolitan Press, 1 94 1, fols. 46b-49b ; Hhhobhhk'B ApxHepeftcnaro CBHmeimo- 
CJiy>KeHHH (Cinovnik Arkhijerejskago Svjascjennoslu2jenija) Jordanville, New 
York : St. Job of Pochaev and Holy Trinity Monastery Press, 1965, pp. 136-146 ; 
Tpe6HHKi> (Trebnik) Moscow: Patriarchal Press, 1956, part. II, pp. 50-81; for 
the Ukrainian Church : TpeSHHKt (Trebnik) (Ukrainian Orthodox), Kiev : 
Percersk Lavra, 1864, fols. 335-338 ; JJorojiHHTejraBbift TpeGHHin. (Dogolnit- 
jelnij Trebnik : "Supplementary Ritual") (Ukrainian Orthodox, bound together 


modern liturgical commentators and translators 69 for the full texts of the 
prayers and ceremonies ; 69 * we again note that the antimensia may be 
consecrated together with a fixed altar, or outside of this circumstano . 

I. During the Consecration of a Fixed Altar 

When antimensia are consecrated on the occasion of the Hallowing 
of a New Church, 70 as many antimensia as are to be consecrated, ii - 
eluding, naturally, one which will be used for the new altar itself, 71 
are prepared before the ceremony together with the various materia 9 
already spoken of above. 72 

After the Bishop and attendant Priests have fixed the wooden 
mensajo its columns, and washed the mensa with soap and blessed warm 

with the preceeding Trebnik), Kiev, Pechersk Lavra, 1871, fols. 14-33 ; JJo- 
roJiHHTeJlbHHit TpeSHHK-b (Dogolnitjelnij Trebnik) (Ukrainian Orthodox ; Kiev : 
Tipografija Kievo-Pecerskija Ouspenskija Lavri, 192 1), pp. 17-43 ; CJiy>Ke6HHKT, 
CBHTHTeJiCKHH (SluZebnik Svjatitjelskij), (Ukrainian Catholic ; ed. Alexander 
Bacinskij), Lvov : Lit. A. Prislak, 1886, pp. 98-102. (The Ruthenian Catholics 
generally use the Ukrainian Catholic Pontificals and Rituales). 

69 In English: Hapgood, op. cit., pp. 493-511, 613-615. In French: 
Consecration et Inauguration d'une Eglise selon le Rituel de L'Eglise Russe, op. 
cit. ; Petrides, E.O., in German : Lubeck, op. cit. ; Maltzev, op. cit., part II, 
pp. 1 14-142; Archpriest Michael Rajewsky, Euchologion der Orthodox-Katho- 
lischen Kirche, Vienna: Druch Von L. C. Zamarski & C. Dittmarsch, 1861, 
pp. 143-193. In Italian : De Meester, op. cit., pp. 149-164, 166-244. I n Rus- 
sian : Nikolskij, Ustav, pp. 7-9, 429, 797-815. Cfr. below, pp. 400 ff. 

69 a w e have included an English translation of the Russian order for con- 
secrating antimensia apart from the consecration of an altar, in Appendix I. 
pp. 277-284. 

70 For the complicated rules concerning the feast upon which a Church 
(and altar) may be consecrated, cfr. Kiwitz, op. cit., pp. 59-64 ; let it suffice 
here to note that ordinarily a church is not to be consecrated on the feast 
of the Mystery or Saint to which it is to be dedicated because of the resul- 
tant conflict in the Divine Office. At times the ceremonies of the hallowing 
of a church are spread over two consecutive days : on the first day the altar and 
church are consecrated, and on the second day the "opening of the church", i.e. 
for public worship, takes place. It is more usual to perform both acts on the 
same day. Cfr. Kiwitz, op. cit., pp. 45-54, 61-62, and below, pp. 296-207. 

71 Therefore, we may note that there is normally never to be the conse- 
cration of an altar without the simultaneous consecration of at least one anti- 
mension. Cfr. De Meester, op. cit., pp. 187, 195, 197, 198 ; Hapgood, op. cit.. 
PP- 493-51 1- 

71 Cfr. above, pp. 65 ff. 


water, it may be dried either with sponges 73 or with the prepared an- 
timensia. 74 

When the altar has been washed with blessed rhodostamos, 76 the 
priests present the antimensia which are also washed with rhodostamos 
and then used to dry the altar. 76 

After the Bishop has anointed the mensa and its columns with 
Holy Myron, he anoints the antimensia and once more uses them to 
dry the altar, 77 while Ps. 133 is sung. The antimensia are put aside. 

At the part of the ceremony in which the Relics of martyrs are 
solemnly deposited under the altar, the Bishop takes a portion of the Holy 
Relics, and after anointing them with Holy Myron, encloses them with 
wax-mastic and places them in the small bags or pockets affixed to the 
back of the antimensia. 78 

73 Cfr. above, p. 68, note 54, below p. 79. 

74 It is preferable to use cloths and/or sponges for drying the altar be- 
cause of the danger of ruining the antimensia (i.e. the ink used for the printing 
the images and inscriptions may run) ; cfr. above, p. 68, note 55. 

76 Cfr. above, p. 67, note 51. 

76 Again, it is preferable to sprinkle the antimensia lightly with the blessed 
rose water (Rhodostamos), instead of washing them with it. Cfr. above, p. 67, 
note 49. 

77 Again, it is preferable to use cloths and /or sponges to wipe up the 
Chrism. Cfr. Hapgood, op. cit., p. 499, where she also seems to imply that the 
places on the altar anointed with the Chrism are not wiped at all : "Then the 
sacristan bringeth the Holy Chrism. The Bishop, taking the brush, anointeth 
the Altar, in cross-form. The Proto-deacon, saith, for the Altar, and for each 
corporal : 'Let us attend'. The Bishop maketh upon the Altar, three crosses, 
one in the middle, and one on each side, a little lower down, saying 'Alleluia' 
thrice, at each. And he anointeth also the pillars of the Altar, on two sides, and 
on the middle, and on the edges. Thereafter the Priests take the Corporal {Cor- 
porals) and lay it (them) on the Altar, one by one, below the crosses, which are traced 
with the Holy Chrism, that these crosses be not erased. The Bishop maketh three 
crosses on each corporal (antimins) with the Holy Chrism, which is on the altar. 
And when this is accomplished, Psalm CXXXIII is read." 

78 Goar, op. cit., p. 522 notes that the practical purpose for using the 
wax-mastic is to keep the particles of relics from deteriorating into dust and 
being lost. Cfr. above, p. 66, note 48. There are two different procedures which 
may be used for anointing the relics with Holy Myron (Chrism), encasing them 
in wax-mastic, and fixing them in the small cloth bag. The first method fellows 
the Sinaitic tradition, the second the Allatian tradition. Cfr. above, pp. 63- 
65. The first is to place the relics in wax-mastic, anoint them with Myron, 
and then put them into the bag ; thus De Meester, op. cit., p. 236 ; Goar, op. 
cit., p. 518 ; Lubeck, op. cit., p. 413 ; Petrides, E.O., p. 201. The second pro- 


The antimensia remain on the altar for seven days, and the Divine 
Liturgy is celebrated on them after the consecration of the altar and 
each day for the following seven days. After this the Bishop signs each 
one and they may be distributed to Priests and churches as necessity arises . 

2. Apart from the Consecration of a Fixed Altar 

The assisting priests place the antimensia to be consecrated on the 
altar. 79 The Bishop, fully vested as for Pontifical Divine Liturgy 80 and 
with an apron over his vestments, after some initial prayers, blesses the 

cedure is to pour some melted wax-mastic into the cloth bag, put the relics into 
the bag,^ anoint the relics in the bag with Holy Myron or even pour some Myron 
in on top of the relics, and then to finally pour more melted wax-mastic over th'» 
anointed relics to fix them in the bag ; thus De Meester, op. cit., p. 237 ; Malt- 
zev, op. cit., pp. 139-140 ; Nikolskij, Ustav, p. 815 ; Petrides, E.O., p. 202. From 
practical experience, it would seem that the former method is preferable ; the 
second method is rather difficult when working with small objects. A pro- 
cedure found very useful is the following implementation of the first method : 
small spheres of wax-mastic about 1/2 inch (1.3 cm.) in diameter are rolled 
between the fingers until soft enough to be flattened into thin disks ; the small 
particles of relics are placed on these disks and pressed slightly into the surface 
so that they will not roll off the disk nor adhere to the Anointing Brush ; the 
Bishop, using a brush, anoints the relics on the wax-mastic with Holy Myron ; 
the disks are then folded up so that the wax-mastic completely encloses the relics 
and they are then inserted into the cloth bags which have already been sewn 
(before the ceremony) to the antimensia ; a flat metal or wooden object is then 
used to press the wax-mastic flat in the bag and to thus affix it firmly to the bag; 
if necessary, the bag may be sewn shut after the ceremony. The cloth bag or 
sack is usually about one inch (2.5 cm.) square, Cfr. below, p. 84. 

79 It is supposed that the antimensia are placed on a fixed consecrated 
altar when they are consecrated, for it is from the already consecrated altar, 
according to Byzantine theological and canonical considerations, that the anti- 
mensia will draw their "force". Cfr. below, pp. 78-79 ; Symeon of Thessa- 
lonica, P.G., 155 : 333, seems to imply that in his time the altar was first stripped 
of its coverings so that the consecration was performed on the bare altar. 

80 Since part of the ceremony is to celebrate the Divine Liturgy on the 
newly consecrated antimensia, the consecration of antimensia can take place on 
any day, usually before the' Divine Liturgy, or less often during the Divine Li- 
turgy after the Dismissal of the Catechumens. Thus Maltzev, op. ext., p. 142, 
says : "It is to be noted that this rite takes place before the Divine Liturgy ; it 
may also take place during the Divine Liturgy after the exclamation, 'That 
with us they too may glorify They most honorable and sublime name...' But 
in general the Pontificals (Cinovniki) and the Rituals (or Typica- Ustavi) pre- 
scribe that this rite take place before the Liturgy (and this is found more op- 

7 6 

the rhodostamos 81 and spinkles the antimensia three times with it saying, 
"In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Sprinkle 
me with hyssop and I shall be clean : wash me and I shall be whiter 
than snow." He then takes the Holy Myron (Chrism) and, having sung 
the word "Alleluia" three times, he anoints the antimensia three times 
by means of a brush dipped in the Myron, making a cross in the center, 
and a cross at each side of the antimensia. In the meantime, the choir 
sings Ps. 133 "Behold how good and pleasant it is, etc." 

Then follow more prayers and a solemn procession with the Sacred 
Relics of the Martyrs through the doors of the Ikonostasis and around 
the altar with appropriate hymns and incensations. Particles of the Holy 
Relics are anointed with Holy Myron, encased in wax-mastic, 82 and 
placed in the small cloth bags or pockets affixed to the back of the an- 

After some final prayers, the Bishop leaves the sanctuary, the 
appropriate Hour of the Divine Office is sung, and the Pontifical Liturgy 
is celebrated (on the new antimensia) as usual. 

The antimensia remain on the altar for seven 83 days during which 
time the Divine Liturgy is celebrated on them each day ; afterwards they 
are removed, signed by the Bishop, the data of consecration noted on 
them, and then they may be distributed to Priests and churches as needed. 

Various Eucholgia admit of minor divergencies, 84 i.e. the relics 

portune) according to the rite described above, lest there be an interruption delay 
in the course of the Divine Liturgy." "Diese Amtschandlung geschieht also vor 
der heligen Liturgie ; sie wird hedoch auch wahrend der heligen Liturgie ver- 
richtet und beginnt dann nach der Ausrufung : Auf dass auch sie mit uns preisen 
mogen deinen allverehrten und hochherrlichen Namen. Indess verordnen die Agen- 
den und Bestimmungen, dass diese Feierlichkeit vor der heligen Liturgie so vor 
sich gehe, wie hier angegeben ist, auf dass in der heligen Liturgie keine Unter- 
brechung und keine Verzogerung stattfinde." 

81 Cfr. above, p. 67, note 49 ; p. 74, note 75. 

82 Cfr. above, p. 66, note 48 ; page 74, note 78. 

83 Cfr. above, p. 75. 

84 Cfr. De Meester, op. cit., pp. 234-239 ; Goar, op. cit., pp. 517-522. 
Thus according to some Ukrainian usages, the antimensia are anointed according 
to the method used for Latin portable altars, i.e. in the center and the four cor- 
ners ; the Bishop walks around the altar seven times, incensing the antimensia, 
as in the Latin Rite ; the Bishop imposes his hands on the antimensia while 
saying the prayer "O Lord of Heaven and earth..."' Cfr. A. O. Chojnackij, 
Zapadnoruskaja, Cerkovnaja Unia v jeje bogusluieniu i ibriadach (Kiev : 1871), 
p. 15 ; A. Bacinskij, Slulebnik Svjatitelskij (Lvov : 1886), p. 102. 


are anointed with Chrism and enclosed in the antimensia prior to the 
anointing of the antimension itself. 85 

An examination of the primitive rite, the particulars underlined by 
the Canonical Commentators, and the essentials which perdure through 
the various readings of Ms and printed Eucholgia (pontificals), lead one 
to the conclusion that the two great moments of the consecration of 
antimensia are i) its anointing with Holy Myron 86 by the Bishop, and 

85 This procedure would seem less desirable for the reason that the con- 
secration of the antimensia imitates the consecration of the fixed altar, and in 
the consecration of the latter, the altar is first anointed and then at a later part 
of the ceremony the relics are anointed and placed under the altar. Cfr. Con- 
secration et Inauguration d'une Eglise selon le Rituel de I'Eglise Russe, op. cit., 
pp. 9-13, 26-39 ; De Meester, op. cit., pp. 196-207 ; Hapgood, op. cit., pp. 

86 Goar, op. cit., p. 521, says concerning the anointing with Holy Myron 
which is used to consecrate the antimensia : "Without which an altar is not 
consecrated according to the Canon of the Councils, since the effusion of the most 
holy Unguent makes it holy, as testifies Dionysius, De Eccl. Hierar., ch. 14." 
"Sine quo iuxta Conciliorum Canones non consecratur Altare, quod Sanctissimi 
Unguenti Sacra effusione, sanctum reddi testatur Dionysius de Eccl. Hierar. 
cap. 14. Cfr. Dionysius, De Ecclesia Hiararchia, P.G. 3 : 484, 505 ; also Bliley, 
op. cit., pp. 30-34 ; De Meester, op. cit., p. 177, and p. 178 where he says : "In 
fact, within the sacred precincts of the church, the altar is everything. Through 
the altar, says Symeon of Thessalonica, the temple is holy. Without the altar it 
is not a temple (church) but only a prayer house (oratory)... Without the altar, 
the temple is sanctified only by prayer, but it is not the Tabernacle of the glory 
of God, it is not His dwelling place... it does not have by the grace inherent in it 
the power to bring to God our prayers ; gifts may not be offered on an unconse- 
crated table, nor upon it is it licit to change bread and wine into the Body and 
Blood of Jesus Christ. This sanctifying power of the altar comes from the pre- 
sence of the relics of the holy martyrs and from the consecration effected by 
means of the Holy Myron." He goes on to say "Since these two elements (relics 
and anointing with Myron) are found in the rite for the consecration of the anti- 
mension, it participates in all the powers of the altar." "Difatti, nel sacro re- 
cinto della chiesa l'altare e tutto. Per l'altare, dice Simeone di Salonicco, il 
tempio e santo. Senza altare non c'e tempio, ma soltanto una casa di orazione, 
7rpoaei>x>j<; (Jtovov oZxo<;. Senza altare il tempio e santificato soltanto dalla pre- 
ghiera, ma non e il tabernacolo della gloria di Dio, non e la sua dimora xaxot- 
xr)T7)ptov toutou (0eou), non ha per grazia sua inerente la virtu di portare a Dio le 
nostre orazioni ; non si possono offrire i doni sopra una mensa non consacrata, 
n6 h lecito cambiarvi il pane e il vino nel corpo e nel sangue di Gesu Cristo. 
Questa virtu sanctificatrice dell'altare provienne dalla presenza delle reliquie dei 
santi martiri e dalla consecrazione fatta con il sacro miro. Si sa che il Vescovo 
versa il s. miro e sulle reliquie quando vienne chiusa la loro teca, e sulla mensa 


2) the enclosure of the Relics therein. 87 Because of the Byzantine Mysti- 
que 88 concerning the origin of the sanctification of the antimensia (and 
other objects) it is fitting that they be placed on a consecrated fixed altar 
to be consecrated, and that afterwards the Divine Liturgy be celebrated 
on them, before they are distributed. 

scholion : 

D. Origin and Nature of the Hallowing of the Byzantine Antimension : 

Apropos the origin and nature of the sanctification of the antimen- 
sion, since this is a concept particular to the Byzantine mystique, and 
almost unheard of in the West, 88a we think it expedient to quote at 
length from an article by the late Archimandrite Placidus De Mee- 
ster, o.s.b., entitled "Blessing and Consecration by Contact in Oriental 
Canon Law and Rites" : 

"In Oriental Canon Law (and here I speak especially of 
Byzantine ecclesiastical law which generally reflects the spirit 
or juridic mentality of Oriental Christians and which has exer- 
cised a profound influence on the ecclesiastical discipline of all 
the Orient), there are distinguished holy objects (haghia) from 
sacred objects (hiera), sanctified or blessed objects (hegiasmena) from 
consecrated objects (hierdmena, kathierdtheisa) . . . 

When an object is holy and consecrated to God, it possesses 
in itself a sanctifying power (hagiastike dynamis). It can com- 
municate this power to other objects by contact, by their being pla- 
ced together, hagiasmou metadotika (cfr. Symeon of Thessalonica, 
P.G. 155 : 337) in such a way that these other objects in turn 
are not only blessed in themselves but may also radiate the 
sanctification which they possess... 

dall'altare. Siccome questi due elementi si ritrovano nel rito della consecrazione 
dell'antiminsio, questo participa di tutte le virtu dell'altare." 

87 Idem. We have noted above, pp. 50 ff, that when an antimension is 
not used as a portable altar, but is rather used as a corporal on a fixed conse- 
crated altar, it may sometimes not be furnished with relics. Since it has under- 
gone all the other ceremonies including the anointing with Holy Myron, it has 
been validly consecrated, but cannot be used licitly as a portable altar unless 
it is later furnished also with relics. 

88 Cfr. below, pp. 78-79. 

88a However, cfr. pre-Code disputes in Latin-Rite Canon Law regarding 
the desecration of Churches that the Consecration of a Church adheres to its 


Thus one reads in a canonical response 89 which is attributed 
to John, Bishop of Kitros in Macedonia (XII-XIII century) 
and addressed to Constantine Cabasilas, Metropolitan of Dyrra- 
chium : When an altar is not consecrated, one must place on it 
an antimension, which communicates its sanctifying power to 
the altar and to the gifts (oblations) which are offered on 
the altar. 

Contact with an altar, then, is particularly indicated for 
the blessing of objects. 

It is above all on the occasion of the dedication of a church 
that this practice is honored. As soon as the Sacred Chrism 
has been poured upon the table of the altar, there are placed 
upon it antimensia, ikons, liturgical vessels and instruments 
(Proskomedia Lance, Communion Spoon, etc.), Chalice Veils and 
all those things which are required for the Eucharistic Sacrifice. 
„ It is not necessary to further bless these sacred furnishings. The 
faithful anxiously wait for the distribution of the pieces of 
linen and sponges which were used to wash and dry the altar : 
they carry these home to apply to the sick and to preserve 
their homes from all misfortune and from the snare of the 
Demon. " 90 

walls (and is lost by their destruction) while the simple Blessing of a Church 
aheres to its floor ; vid. John Theophilus Gulczynski, The Desecration and 
Violation of Churches, An Historical Synopsis and Commentary, Washington, 
D.C. : The Catholic University of America Press, 1942, pp. 12-15,22-27,49-56. 
et passim. 

89 P.G. 119 : 976. For citation of this response, cfr. above, p. 69, n. 58. 

90 Placidus De Meester", La benediction et la consecration par contact 
dans le droit et les rites orientaux", Angelicum, vol. 20 (1943). PP- 254-260 : 
"Dans le droit oriental — et je parle ici surtout du droit ecclesiatique de Byzance 
qui reflete gen6ralement l'esprit ou la mentalite juridique des Chretiens orientaux 
et qui a exerc6 une profonde influence sur la discipline ecclesiastique de tout 
l'Orient — , on distingue entre objets saints, (aywc) et sacres (lepa), entre objets 
sanctifies, benits (rjY iaa ^ va ) et consacres (leptouiva, xa6iepco0et<Ta) . . . (p. 256) 
"Quand un object est saint et consacre a Dieu, il possede en soi une vertu sanc- 
tificatrice, ayiaaTtxT) Suvau-ig. Cette vertu, il peut la communiquer a d'autres 
objets par attouchement, par rapprochement, dytaafxou u-eTaSoxixa (cfr. Sy- 
meon of Thessalonica, p. 9. i55> 337). de te U e sorte <l u ' k leur tour ces objects 
non seulement sont benits en eux-memes, mais ils peuvent faire rayonner la 
sanctification qu'ils possedent... Voici ce qu'on lit dans une response canonique 
passee sous le nom de Jean, Eveque de Kitros en Macedoine (XII-XIII s.), et 
adressee a Constantin Cabasilas, Metropolitan de Dyrrachium : Quand l'autel 
n'est pas consacre, on doit y deposer un antiminsion. Celui-ci communique sa 
vertu sanctificatrice a l'autel et aux dons (oblats) qui sont offerts a l'autel (p. 257), 
Le contact de l'autel, en effet, est particulierement indique pour la benediction 
des objets. C'est surtout le jour de la dedicace d'une eglise que cette pratique 


III. Loss of Usefulness of the Antimension (Exsecration) 

1. General notion. The term "Loss of Usefulness" is to be preferred 
over the terms 'desecration" or "exsecration" (i.e. "loss of consecration") 
because, according to the Byzantine mystique, the antimension does 
not lose its consecration unless it has been totally destroyed. In this it 
differs greatly from the Latin portable altar stone, which loses its 
consecration if it suffers a notable fracture ("notable" either by reason 
of the large size of the piece which is cracked off, or by reason of the 
fact that is was one of the corners on which the altar stone was anointed 
at its consecration) , or if the relatively thin stone slab covering the cavity 
("sepulcher") in which the Relics are contained is seriously broken, or 
if it is removed (except by a Bishop or his delegate for the purpose of 
inspecting the Relics or repairing the cover), or if the Relics are remo- 
ved. 91 

2. Neither would it be germane to speak of the "violation of the 
antimension" (the suspension of its consecration by certain criminal 
acts) 92 because this likewise is inadmissable in the Byzantine Church, 

est mise en honneur. A peine la s. chreme a-t-il ete repandu sur la table de 
l'autel, on y depose antiminsia, icones, vases et instruments (lance, cuiller, etc.), 
voiles, et tout ce qui regarde le sacrifice eucharistique. II n'est plus necessaire 
de b6nir une autre fois tout cet appareil. Le peuple attend avec impatience qu'on 
lui distribue des morceaux de linges et des eponges qui ont servi a laver et a 
essuyer l'autel : il porte chez lui ces morceaux pour les appliquer sur les malades 
et pour preserver le foyer domestique de tout malheur et des embuches du demon." 

91 Cfr. CIC, can. 1200, par. 2, nn. 1-4. For a full discussion of the exse- 
cration and violation of the Latin portable altar stone, cfr. Bliley, op. cit., 
pp. 96, 108-109 ; Hans Henny, Der Altar im Kanonischen Recht, Rome : Pon- 
tificia Universitas Gregoriana 1940, pp. 89-96. We may remark here that the 
relative fragility of the Latin portable altar stone and the consequent ease with 
which it becomes exsecrated, coupled with its weight and bulkiness, renders it 
less practical than the Latin and Byzantine forms of the antimension when used 
for purposes of travelling (e.g. by military chaplains) and for this reason the use 
of the antimension has become more and more popular. A further disadvantage 
of the Latin altar stone is its thickness : unless there is a specially prepared re- 
cess in the surface on which it is place, it can become a source of danger of tipping 
over the chalice or ciborium if these are placed too near the edge of the stone 
(which is sometimes quite small in area) hidden from view under the altar cloths. 
Cfr. L. Buijs, Facilitates Religiosorum, Rome : Apud Aedes Pontificiae Univer- 
sitatis Gregorianae, 1965, pp. 48-49. For exsecration and violation of the Latin 
antimensium, cfr. below, pp. 204-205. 

92 Cfr. John Theophilus Gulczynski, The Desecration and Violation of 
Churches, Washington, D.C. : The Catholic University of America Press (Canon 
Law Studies no. 159), 1942, pp. vii-ix. 


for, according to a dictum in regard to antimension of St. Nicephorus the 
Confessor, Patriarch of Constantinople, to which we will shortly have 
occasion to refer in more detail, "an object which has once been sanctified 
cannot become impure." 93 

3. However, while retaining its consecration, and not being subject 
to any possible "violation", an antimension may be rendered by other 
factors unfit to have the Divine Liturgy celebrated upon it, i.e. it may 
lose its usefulness for certain reasons which we will next proceed to 

4. The antimension is subject to the limitations of the material 
from which it is made, in this case the inherent frailties of silk or liner, 
cloth. Since it is folded for travelling and should be folded and 
re-folded at each celebration of the Holy Mysteries, 94 with time 
and use it is inevitable that it should become frayed and even torn, 
especially along the lines where it has been folded ; common decency 
and positive legislation forbid the further celebration on the antimension 
which has reached this stage of deterioration. Furthermore, there is 
always present the danger, particularly when, following the Byzantine 
tradition, the Liturgy is celebrated directly upon the antimension (as on 
a corporal), 95 that perforated or torn, it may allow particles of the Sacred 
Eucharist to slip through the holes and be brushed off to the floor or be 
otherwise lost. The worn antimension must be withdrawn from use. 
Notably soiled antimensia and ones whose inscriptions have become ille- 
gible have likewise lost their usefulness and should be withdrawn. 

Archpriest Constantine Nikolskij, following the "Instructions" pu- 
blished in the Moscow Sluzebnik (Missal) 96 , says in this regard : 

"If the antimension is torn, perforated with holes, or so 
soiled that the inscriptions written or printed upon it cannot 
be read (just as one cannot read upon a piece of paper something 

93 Cfr. below, p. 86. Be that as it may, the Byzantine ritual, perhaps due 
to Latin influence, does provide a prayer for the reconciliation, although not the 
reconsecration of a violated altar ; however, there is nothing specified as to a 
"violated antimension" and it seems that the Byzantine mystique does not 
conceive of such. Cfr. De Meester, op. ext., pp. 224-232 ; Kiwitz, op. cit., 
PP- 52-54- 

94 Cfr. above, pp. 112 ff. 

95 Cfr. above, pp. 112 ff. 

96 CjiyjKeSHHK-b, Moscow : Russian Orthodox Synodal Press, 1901, fol. 232 b. 

7 - J. M. Izzo - The Antimension 


that has been erased or cancelled out), it may not under any 
circumstances be used for celebration. He who dares to cele- 
brate upon such an antimension is to be considered as one who 
despises the Divine Mysteries, he sins mortally, and should 
be punished by the Bishop with suspension and excommu- 
nication." 97 

Bulgakov warns that : 

"Because of the importance of the Mystery (Sacrament) 
of the Eucharist, the antimension must not be too old (worn), 
nor perforated, nor soiled or discolored to the point where the 
inscription on it cannot be read." 98 

and repeats the penalties threatened by the "Instructions" in the official 

SluZebnik : 

"He who dares to celebrate on such an antimension is to be 
considered as one who despises the Divine Mysteries, he sins 
mortally, and should be punished by the Bishop with suspension 
and excommunication." 99 

Nicaev reports, concerning the legislation "Instructions for the Dean 
of Parish Churches'" amongst the duties of the Dean : 

"The Dean must see to it (in the churches of his deanery) 
that the holy antimension has been signed by the Bishop who 
consecrated it, and that is neither too old, nor perforated, nor 
stained, nor discolored." 100 

Petrovskij, when enumerating the conditions under which the anti- 
mension must be changed, notes that this is done when it has become 
exceedingly old or worn (obvetSanija star ago). 101 

Although all the authorities just cited belong to the Russian Or- 
thodox Church and therefore their jurisdiction extends only to their own 
Communion, yet they should be considered as having great weight as 
witnesses to the thought common to the whole Byzantine Rite ; and, 
after all, they but give voice to what common sense and the reverence 

97 Nikolskij, Ustav, p. 8, cfr. also his work Antimins, pp. 100-107. 

98 Bulgakov, op. cit., pp. 709-710. 

99 Ibidem. 

100 CICO Fonti, serie II, fascicolo VII (1944), p. 292, n. 946. The 12th 
edition of Nicaev's standard work Practical Handbook of Priestly Services (in 
Russian) was published in 1915 at St. Petersburg (Leningrad). 

101 oSBeraiaHHH CTaparo ; Petrovskij, op. cit., col. 808. 


due to the Holy Eucharist would prescribe. In case of dire necessity, 
however, the present author would admit that such an antimension, 
observing fitting precautions (e.g. using a clean corporal on top of the 
antimension), could be used to avoid violating the venerable ecclesiastical 
tradition which requires that the Divine Liturgy be celebrated only upon 
a duly consecrated altar. 102 But given the relative facility with which a 
new antimension may be obtained, it would in general be preferred to 
withdraw a worn or soiled antimension from use and replace it with a 
new one. 

5. Whether the antimension is new, or even if it is old and worn, 
the canonical commentators tell us that it may not be sewn nor mended 
after it has been once consecrated ; neither may it be cut into pieces to 
provide ^riore antimensia. 

Thus Father James Goar, o.p., following the Codex Allatianus and 
other related Greek Mss. : 

"Before their consecration, antimensia may be cut, sewn, 
and washed : afterwards, nothing of the sort can be done to 
them, and they may only be inscribed : The Holy Altar of 
St. N.N., consecrated by Metropolitan N.N., in the month 
N.N., in the year N.N.' If they have been consecrated in the 
city of Constantinople, there is added 'during the reign of N.N., 
the most Holy and Ecumenical Patriarch'." 103 

The 1927 Athenian Greek Orthodox edition of the Great Euvho- 
logion contains the same prescriptions. 104 De Meester follows Goar. 105 
Bulgakov states : 

"It is not permitted to wash a stained antimension nor to 
mend an old or torn antimension." 106 

102 Cfr. Bliley, op. cit., pp. 3°~34. 75"77- 

103 "Sciendum Antimensia, ante consecrationem scindenda, consuenda, et 
lavanda esse : post earn siquidem, nil huiusmodi fit circa ilia, verum hoc tantum 
pacto inscribuntur : 'Altare Sancti N., consecratum a Metropolita N., Mensae N., 
anni N.' Si vero in Urbe CP. haec celebrantur, additur : 'Tempore N. Sanctis- 
simi et Oecumenici Patriarchae'." Goar, op. cit., p. 664. We will discuss the 
washing of antimensia below, pp. 85 ff. 

104 Cfr. ETXOAOriON TO META, Athens, 1927. P- 54 *■ 

105 De Meester, op. cit., p. 163. 

106 Bulgakov, op. cit., p. 710. 


The only exception to this rule would seem to be the sewing shut 
of the small cloth bag containing the Holy Relics, after the consecration 
of the antimension, because of the danger that the wax-mastic might in 
time lose its adhesive qualities and allow the relics to fall out ; this is a 
case of necessity and the respect due to the Holy Relics. Almost all the 
antimensia which the author has seen in museums and churches had the 
Relic pouch stitched shut. 

As for the sewing of an eileton or lining to the reverse side of the 
antimension after the consecration of the latter, it is a fairly recent in- 
novation against the Byzantine tradition, and the present author does 
not see any serious necessity which would admit this practice as an 
exception. 107 

In regard to the cutting up or tearing into pieces of antimension 
to multiply antimensia, we have seen above 108 that, primitively, anti- 
mensia were made from the linen cloths which had been used to wipe 
up the Holy Water and Sacred Myron (Chrism) used at the consecration 
of a fixed altar. These cloths were divided into pieces (presumably squares 
or rectangles) and signed by the Bishop who had consecrated them and 
the altar ; often other inscriptions were added. The wide use of anti- 
mensia, especially in areas distant from the episcopal residence, created 
a demand for antimensia which far exceeded the supply (since they were 
consecrated only at the consecration of a fixed altar) ; eventually, con- 
secrating antimensia outside of the occasion of the consecration of a fixed 
altar was permitted out of necessity, but in the meantime, recourse was 
had to the simple expedient of cutting into pieces already existing anti- 
mensia. This, of course, entailed the partial or total destruction of the 
inscriptions with which the original antimension had been furnished ; 
further difficulties were had in regard to the Relics which had been sewn 
to the original and which had either to remain attached to only one of 
the new fractions, in which case the other pieces were used unlawfully 
without Relics, or divided up into as many pieces as there were new frac- 
tional antimensia — since the Relics had already been mixed with wax- 
mastic, 109 which in itself contains solid particles of various shapes and 
colors (incense, marble dust, etc.), it was difficult to distinguish the Relics 
from the other ingredients. This abuse was finally forbidden by the 
Byzantine Church, as we have seen in the citations immediately preceding. 

107 Cfr. above, p. 37. 

108 pp. 62-69 ff. 

109 Cfr. above, pp. 66-67, 107-108 ; also 21-22, 52, 74-76. 


In regard to other sources, the first printed Slavonic edition of the ce- 
remony for the consecration of antimensia, 110 which was signed by the 
Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria, Paisios, by the Greek Orthodox 
Patriarch of Antioch, Makarios, and by the Russian Orthodox Patriarch 
of Moscow, Joasaph, at the Second Synod of Moscow, in the year 1667, 
and hence binding upon their three respective Patriarchates, contains 
strict prohibitions against the abuse of cutting up antimensia. 

Earlier, however, Metropolitan Cyprian of Moscow writes to the 
clergy of Pskov (a city in western Russia) sometime after the year 1395 : 

"When 1 was in the great city of Novgorod, I consecrated 
antimensia and I ordered the Bishop to send you some of these. 
Now, however, I hear that the has been among you and gave 
„ you some of these antimensia, but that he ordered you to divide 
each antimension into four pieces ; in this he acted wrongly, 
to his own perdition." 111 

Although the practice of dividing up antimensia is to be condemned 
because of the disrespect for Byzantine tradition which it entails, still 
the pieces remain consecrated for only the complete destruction of the 
antimension results in its loss of consecration. 

6. We come now to a moot point (one already alluded to in some 
of the citations just given) : may a soiled antimension be cleansed by 
washing ? The first that we hear of this practical problem is in two ca- 
nons concerning antimensia which are attributed by Cardinal John Bap- 
tist Pitra 112 and the majority of commentators 113 to St. Nicephorus I 

110 Huu-b ApxHepeftcKaro JJeiiCTBa BoecTBeHHMXb JiHTyprnft h OcBnmeHHH 
AHTHMHHCOB-b h UepKBen. (Cin Arkhijereskago Djejstvo Bolestvjennikh Liturgij i 
osvjaUjenija Antiminsov i Cerkve), Moscow, 1668. 

111 CICO Fonti, serie II, fascicolo VII, p. 296, n. 954. Cfr. also I. D. Man- 
svetov, MuTponoJiHT KmipHaH B ero JlHTyprucKOit AeflTejiHOCTH (Metroplit 
Kiprian v jego liturgiskoj djejatelnosti), Moscow, 1885, p. 147. 

112 J. B. Pitra, Juris Ecclesiastici Graecorum Historia et Monumenta iussu 
Pii IX Pont. Max. (2 vols.), Rome : Typis S. Congregationis de Propaganda Fide, 
1868, vol. II, pp. 314-317, 327> 329, 337- 

113 Amanieu, op. cit., col. 587, and Raes, op. cit., p. 62, simply call them 
"Canons of Nicephorus" and "attributed by Pitra to Nicephorus" respectively. 
De Meester, op. cit., p. 163, notes that Pitra's canon 16 is canon number one of 
Nicephorus the Confessor, Patriarch of Constantinople, in Rhallis and Potlis, 
STNTArMA, t. IV, p. 427, and seems to point out canon 96 as from an unknown 
source (though he cites Mansi, Conciliorum Amplissimo Collectio, t. XIV, col. 
323, and Pitra, loc. cit. The Pedalion (Cummings), op. cit., p. 963, knows only 


the Confessor, Patriarch of Constantinople (d. 828), 114 while Sophronius 
Petrides opts for Nicephorus II, Patriarch of Constantinople (1260-1261) 115 
Although there may remain some doubt as to authorship If these canons, 
there is no doubt as to their canonicity as they have been accepted into 
all the official collections and they are quoted as having authority by 
most of the canonical authors. 116 The two canons are as follows : 

Canon 16. If through inadvertance an antimension is washed, 
it is not profaned and keeps its consecration, because an object 
which has been once sanctified, can never become impure. 117 

canon 16 and numbers it as number one of the "Canons of Nicephorus the Con- 
fessor among the Saints, taken from his ecclesiastical Syntaxes and those of the 
Holy Fathers with him, thirty-seven in number, as translated into vernacular 
Greek," adding the note "such is the title or heading of these canons as found 
in certain manuscript books of the venerable monasteries of the Holy Mountain 
(Mt. Athos)." However, as an historical source, the Pedalion is not very reliable. 

114 St. Nicephorus ascended the Patriarchal Throne of Constantinople in 
806 as the immediate successor of St. Tarasios ; because of his valiant opposition 
to the Iconoclasts he was deposed in 815 and died in 829. 

115 Petrides, first in his article in the April 1900 issue of Echos d'Orient 
{op. cit.), pp. 195-196 questions the attribution of these canons to Nicephorus I, 
showing that in other works (which he cites) these canons are said to originate 
from St. John Chrysostom, from the Council of Chalcedon, or from St. Theodore 
Studite. He feels that if these canons had already existed in the XII century, 
they would certainly have been cited by John of Kitros ; Petrides opts for Pa- 
triarch Nicephorus II (1260-1261) if we wish to keep the association the "Canons 
of Nicephorus." In his later articles in DACL {op. cit.), col. 2320 and DTC {op. 
cit.), col. 1390, he retains the same opinion. Lubeck, op. cit., p. 403 considers 
Petrides as mistaken, and attributes the Canons, like Pitra to St. Nicephorus I. 
Metropolitan Phillip Nabaa, op. cit., p. 291 follows Petrides. P. J. Alexander, 
op. cit., p. 156, simply doubts their authorship. 

116 Cfr. Cotelier, Ecclesia Graeca Monumenta, t. I, pp. 140 ff. ; Mansi, 
Conciliorum Amplissima Collectio, t. XIV, col. 323 ; Mai, Bibliotheca Nova Pa- 
trum, t. V, pars ultima, p. 14 ; P.G. 100 : 856 ; Pitra, Spicilegium Solesmense, 
t. IV, pp. 385, 464 ; Pitra, Juris Ecclesiastici Graecum Historia et Monumenta, 
t. I, p. 536, t. II, pp. 314-317, 327, 329, 337 ; cfr. also the collections and authors 
cited in note 113 p. 85, and note 115, p. 86, and the proposed legislation for 
the codification of cc. 1 154-1254 : S. Congregazione Orientale - Codificazione Ca- 
nica Orientale, torn. VI, Prot. N. 223/33 (Rumeni, Mons. G. Balan), p. 7 ; Prot. 
N. 228/33 (Russi, Mons. A. Sipiaghin), p. 6, also CICO Fontes. 

117 For Greek and Latin versions, cfr. Pitra, Iuris Ecclesiastici Graecorum 
Historia et Monumenta, t. II, p. 329, and cfr. above, note 116, p. 86, below, 
pp. 275-276. For French, cfr. Petrides, E.O., p. 196 ; for German, cfr. Lubeck, 
op. cit., pp. 403-404 ; for Arabic, cfr. Nabaa, op. cit., p. 292. 


Canon 96. If an antimension or other sacred cloth is washed 
in a private place, no sin is committed ; if it is washed in a 
public place where there are passers-by, it is a sin. 118 

We are confronted with at least an apparent discrepancy between 
canon 16 and canon 96. Canon 16 seems to point to the washing of the 
antimension as an undesirable action since it resolves the doubt as to 
whether or not such an antimension can still be considered as conse- 
crated ; 119 furthermore, it considers the case of an antimension being 
washed through inadvertence (xgctoc ayvoiav) as if no one would knowingly 
transgress ecclesiastical tradition in this manner. In canon 96, however, 
the washing of the antimension becomes an accepted fact and the point 
at issue seems to be the place (private or public) where it is washed and 
the molality involved. 

The commentators seem much divided as to the interpretation of 
these two canons : 1) The washing of antimensia is categorically forbidden 
by : The Order for the Consecration of Antimensia and Altars by a Bishop 
published in Moscow in the year 1668 120 ; by Ferrari ; and by Bulgakov. 
Thus Protopope Ferrari, speaking of the antimension, the antimension 
sponge, 121 the eileton, etc. says : 

"These are all objects which among us it is also forbidden to 
wash. After they have been used for some time, they are burned 
and the ashes are thrown into the special sacrarium (sink) 
which lies under the altar and is called the ©aXaaatSiov 122 
because in the Great Church 123 of Constantinople itislet out into 
the waves of the sea (Bosphorus)." 124 

118 Ibidem. 

119 Or to use more exact Byzantine terminology, whether or not the anti- 
mension has lost its "sactification" (Greek xaGiepcoau; ; Slavonic ocBHiueHHe), 
which is considered as a manifestation of the Divine Power present or "dwelling" 
in the sanctified object, in this case, the antimension. Cfr. Ernst Bexz, The 
Eastern Orthodox Church, It's Thought and Life, Garden City, New York : Anchor 
Books (Doubleday & Co., Inc.), 1963, PP- 5-6, 10-12 ; Vladimir Lossky, The 
Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church, London : James Clarke & Co. Ltd., 

r 957> PP- 189-194- 

120 Cin... Osvjalcenija Antiminsov i Cerkvei : cfr. above, p. 85, note no. 

121 Cfr. below, p. 112. 

122 Thalassidion ; referring to the "sea" (Gk. OaXaaaa) Thalassa. Cfr. D. Pal- 
las, "H OoXaoaa xwv 'ExxXTjaiwv, Contribution a I' histoire de V autel chrdtien et a la 
morphologie de la liturgie, Athens ; Institut Francais d'Athenes, 1952, passim ; 
Salaville, op. cit., p. 112. 

123 I.e. Haghia Sophia. 

124 Ferrari, op. cit., p. 106 : "Tutti oggetti che e proibito, da noi, perfino 


We will quote at length from the original Russian of Archpriest 
Bulgakov because this passage contains some interesting particulars : 

"If the Sacred Mysteries (in this case the Precious Blood) 
are spilled upon the antimension, this must be presented to the 
Bishop. Acording to the usage introduced into the diocese of 
Moscow by the Metropolitan (of Moscow) Philaret (1619-1634), 
the antimensia upon which has been spilled the Holy Blood, 
even only a drop, are withdrawn from use and new ones are 
substituted for them. (Those who are guilty of this negligence 
(i.e. those who spilled the Precious Blood), are sent to a mo- 
nastery to do penance (epitimia) for a more or less long period 
of time (according to the circumstances), and they are forbidden 
to celebrate (while doing penance for their offence). According 
to rule 158 of the Nomocanon, the maximum sentence is for six 
months. Judging from what is required in the Nomocanon, i.e. 
when the Precious Blood has been spilled even through inadver- 
tance, the guilty Priest must with repentance report immediately 
to the Bishop, and may not recommence to celebrate the Li- 
turgy without his permission. It should be considered that even in 
the case where simple wine (i.e. before the Consecration) is spilled 
upon the antimension, the Priest must act in the same manner. In 
regard to the washing or licking (with the tongue) of an anti- 
mension on which has been spilled some of the Divine Blood, 
this must also be reprobated ; for according to the explanation 
of the Metropolitan Philaret, to one offence against the sacred 
antimension should not be added another." 125 

These rules may seem excessively harsh, especially in the case 
where an unavoidable accident has occurred, but the idea of how great 
respect must be shown to the antimension is clear ; from the considera- 
tion of the case where unconsecrated wine is spilled upon the antimension, 
we see that these regulations do not only inculcate great respect for the 
Divine Mysteries, but also for the antimension itself, which is so intimately 
connected with them. 

Fr George Maloney in his article on the Byzantine Rite in the 
New Catholic Encyclopedia briefly notes : "Only a bishop can consecrate 
an antimension, which is never washed but, when soiled, burned." 1 * 6 

lavare. Dopo averli usati per qualche tempo, essi si bruciano e le ceneri si get- 
tano nel Sacraria Eucaristico, che giace sotto l'Altare, e si chiama 0aXaoat8iov, 
perch6 nella Grande Chiesa di Costantinopoli era a contatto con le onde del mare." 
125 Bulgakov, op. ext., p. 720. 

128 George A. Maloney, "Byzantine Rite", New Catholic Encyclopedia, 


2) Allowing the washing of the antimension are only one text of the 
Pedalion (contradicted by another text in the same work), and for very 
special circumstances, the Moscow Sluzebnik of 1901. The Pedalion in 
a footnote to Canon one (i.e. canon 16 in Pitra, above cited) of St. Ni- 
cephorus the Confessor has the following statement : 

"Simeon of Thessalonica (Reply 81) also says that it is a 
God-beloved thing for one to wash a holy cup (chalice), sponge, 
etc. since this bears reference to the honour and embellishment 
due to divine vessels. Hence I reason that even if one witting! y 
washes off a holy antimension when it happens to get sufficiently 
dirty, he cannot be condemned for doing so." 127 

but in the same collection, in a footnote to canon 73 of the Apostolic 
Canons -(the gist of which is that liturgical objects may no longer be used 
for ordinary or "profane" purposes once they have been sanctified;, 
we find : 

"For according to Canon 1 of Nicephorus, if the antimension 
that is washed by mistake does not lose its sanctity nor is pro- 
faned, much less are the other vestments profaned when they 
are washed. From the expression 'by mistake' used Nicephorus, 
it appears that the antimension ought not to be washed in 
general, nor the covers of the holy chalices. But if these or any 
of all the other sacramental garments and chasubles be com- 
pletely spoiled, some authorities recommend that they be burned 
up in fire (which is best), or be thrown to the bottom of the sea, 
or be disposed of under untrodden ground." 128 

The "Instructions" appended to the end of the official 1901 Edition 
of the Russian Orthodox Sluzebnik contemplate a specific case : What to 
do if some of the Precious Blood (consecrated Eucharistic Wine) is spilled 
upon the Inditija (outer altar covering) 129 or upon the antimension : 

"If some of the Divine Blood falls on the Inditija, or upon 
the antimension, the Priest must lick this up with his tongue, 
and then wipe the place with the antimentions sponge. After 
Liturgy, the same Priest must place a chalice or the teplota 

vol. II, p. 1009. Fr. Maloney does not give any references for his statement, but 
he is an expert on the Byzantine Rite. 

127 Pedalion (Cummings), op. cit., p. 963- 

128 Pedalion (Cummings), op. cit., p. 132. Though leaving much to be 
desired in the way of syntax and style, Cumming's English translation is very 

129 Cfr. below, p. in. 


vessel 130 under the place on the Inditija where the Divine 
Blood fell, and then wash the spot with clear water, which is 
then emptied into a running steam or in a hole dug underneath 
the altar. " 131 

As we have seen above, 132 Archpriest Bulgakov is directly opposed 
to this procedure and quotes Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow (1619- 
1634) to back up his opinion. 

Father Raes thinks that primitive antimensia were not furnished 
with Relics and could be washed, giving the canons of St. Nicephorus as 
his reference ; 133 I canot agree with this eminent author because it seems 

130 The teplota vessel is a metal cup with a handle used by the Russian 
Rite clergy and laity from which to drink a few sips of wine mixed with warm 
water as a sort of ablution after Holy Communion ; it is also used to add a little 
boiling water to the Precious Blood before the Communion in the Divine Li- 
turgy as a symbol of the fervor produced by the Holy Spirit. Cfr. Hapgood, 
op. ext., pp. xxxii, 115, 119, 143, 600. Goar, op. cit., pp. 65, 127-128. 

131 Slulebnik, Moscow : Russian Orthodox Synodal Press, 1901, fol. 238a. 
It seems to me that, especially since it is mentioned in a parenthetical phrase, 
and since later in the same passage only the Inditja is mentioned, that the re- 
ference to the antimension was mentioned as a rather careless aftethought, 
without sufficient advertance to the canonical tradition involved. In fact, the 
whole passage bears a striking resemblance to the section 'De Defectibus in 
Celebratione Missarum Occurentibus, X - De defectibus in ministerio ipso oc- 
curentibus, n. 12' of the Missale Romanum : "If through negligence some of the 
Blood of Christ falls either upon the ground or upon the altar, it is to be licked 
up with the tongue and the place scraped, the scrapings being burned and the 
ashes thrown into the sacrarium. ...If (the Precious Blood has fallen) upon the 
altar cloth, ...the cloth is to be washed three times, a chalice being placed under 
the spot where the drops fell, and the water is to be emptied (from the chalice) 
into the sacrarium." Perhaps this is a case (not unheard of) of a latinism creeping 
into the Russian Rite and obfuscating the original Byzantine tradition which 
eschews the washing of antimensia and to which Bulgakov is a witness. These 
rubrics of the Missale Romanum have recently been changed (1965), but at the 
time that the Slulebnik in question was printed (1901), they were still in force 
and printed in the Missal. For the new Latin rubric, cfr. Ordo Missae Ritus Ser- 
vandus in Celebratione Missae et De Defectibus in Celebratione Missae Occurren- 
tibus, Editio Typica, Rome : Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis, 1965, "De Defectibus", 
X, n. 42, p. 66 : "If any of the Blood of Christ be spilled, even the smallest drop, 
it is sufficient to pour a little water on to it and to wipe is afterwards with a pu- 
rificator, if it has fallen on the corporal or altar cloths or other place, it is to be 
washed in the most fitting manner possible, and the water is to be emptied after- 
wards into the sacrarium." 

132 p. 88. 

133 Raes, op. cit., pp. 61-62 : "These antimensia are still without relics 


that the first antimensia were provided with Relics 134 and only a much 
later practice allowed of antimensia without Relics, which however were 
to be used merely as corporals on consecrated fixed altars. 136 Amanieu, 18 
De Meester, 137 Lubeck, 138 and Nabaa', 139 either content themselves 
with repeating or paraphrasing the two canons or give somewhat am- 
biguous explanations. 

and can be washed (cfr. canons 16 and 96 attributed to Patriarch Nicophorus 
in Pitra)." "Ces Antimensia sont encore sans reliques et peuvent etre lavt's 
(cfr. les canons 16 et 96 attribu6s au patriarche Nicephore dans Pitra, etc.). " 

134 See above, pp. 48 ff . 

135 See below, pp. noff. 

136 Amanieu, op. cii., col. 587 : "The Greek Church has never ceased to 
demand respect for the antimension, as witness the prohibition of washing this 
cloth in the presence of the faithful (or laics) : cfr. Canons of Nicephorus, can. [, 
P.G. 100 : 856. "L'Eglise grecque n'a jamais cesse d'exiger le respect de L'an- 
timense, temoin la defense de laver ce linge devant les fideles ; cf. Canons de 
Nicephore, can. I, P.G., t. C, col. 856." 

137 De Meester, op. cit., p. 163 : "After having been consecrated, the 
antimins cannot be afterwards sewn, nor cut up, nor washed. If an antimension 
has been washed through ignorance, it does not lose its consecration, nor should 
it be considered as profaned (PeffyXov). He does not sin who washes it in a pri- 
vate place ; but he does sin who washes it in a public place (Can. I of Nicephorus 
the Confessor, Patriarch of Constantinople, STNTArMA, t. IV, p. 427. Canons 
from unknown sources, Mansi, t. XIV, col. 323. In a redaction reported by 
Pitra, t. I, p. 336, necessity is mentioned : 'Edtv yev^Tai */peta -Xu07}vai Svnjilv- 
aiov)" - "Dopo essere stati consacrati, gli antiminsi non possono piu essere 
cuciti, ne tagliati, 116 lavati. Se un antiminsio e stato lavato per ignoranza, non 
perde la sua consecrazione, ne deve essere considerato come profanato (fJe^Xov). 
Non pecca chi lo lavasse in luogo appartato ; ma pecca chi lo lavasse in luoghi 
pubblici. (Can. i° di Niceforo il Confessore, Patriarca di Cpoli... Canoni di fonte 
ignota sopra citati, Mansi, t. XIV, col. 323. In una redazione riportata dal Pitra 
(Iuris Eccl. Graec. Hist, et Mon., t. I, p. 336), si parla di necessita : Eav yivrftm 
ypela 7rXu6rjvai avTifiivaiov. 

138 Lubeck, op. cit., p. 404, footnote : "we wish to note here the small 
contradiction which exists between canon 16 and canon 96, with regard to the 
washing of antimensia. The two canons do not seem to come from the same 
hand." - "Auf den kleinen Widerspruch ewischen can. 16 und 96 hinsichtlich 
des Waschens der Antimensien sei hier nur kurz hingeweisen. Die beiden Ka- 
nones scheinen nicht aus einer Hand zu sein." Unfortunately, Dr. Lubeck does 
not specify exactly this small contradiction nor does he attempt to resolve it : 
otherwise, he only translates the canons. 

139 Nabaa', op. cit., p. 292. Metropolitan Phillip Nabaa' merely translates 
the canons, but has an interesting footnote to Canon 96 : "The essence of this 
canon is the act of emptying out the water in which the antimension was washed 
in a hidden or in a publicly frequented place." 


3) Might the solution be that the two canons reflect the practice 
of two different locales or epochs ? 140 Or do they approach the same 
problem from two different points of view, the one strictly juridical, the 
other moral ? I incline to the latter view, believing that the two canons 
may be harmonized as follows : canon 16 speaks of the washing of anti- 
mensia from an objective point of view and implies that although an 
antimension should not be washed, if this operation has nevertheless 
been performed, the antimension has neither been profaned nor exse- 
crated (lost its consecration) and may still be used for the celebration 
of the Divine Mysteries (unless otherwise damaged). Canon 96, on the 
other hand, does not treat of the antimension as such but considers the 
human problem involved, the morality attached to the action of washing 
it : does he who has transgressed the juridical prescription against the 
washing of the antimension incur moral guilt ? The canon specifies that 
one who (knowingly) transgresses the eccleisastical tradition against 
washing antimensia sins (seriously) if he shows such disrespect as to wash 
one in an unbecoming place 141 but does not sin (seriously) if he washes 
it in a decent place. 142 

Or we may say that although antimensia are not to be washed, 
canon 16 treats of the case where one has been washed inadvertently, 
and canon 96 treats of the case where this has been done knowingly. 

Analyzing canon 16, we may say that its most important part is the 
formal enunciation of the Byzantine canonical and liturgical principle 
that an object once sanctified (blessed or consecrated) can never become 

140 As suggested by Lubeck, loc. cit., cfr. above, p. 91, note 138. 

141 h t67to> ev & TOXTsiTai : "frequented by passerbys, public", e.g. in 
the public fountains and washing places. Washing an antimension there before 
the eyes of all would be tantamount to great disrespect for this sacred cloth and 
for the Eucharist (particles of which may still adhere to the antimension) and 
would cause scandal to the passers-by. 

142 I.e. the sacristy (diakonikon - Cfr. Richard Krautheimer, Early 
Christian and Byzantine Architecture, The Pelican History of Art, Baltimore, 
Maryland : Penguin Books, 1967, pp. 68, 360, also 77, 89, 92, no, 210-212, 
326.) or Sacrarium (cfr. above, p. 87), and Mario Righetti, Storia Liturgica, 
4 vols., 3rd. ed., Milan : Editrice Ancora, 1964, Vol. I, pp. 480-481). Cfr. Fer- 
rari, loc. cit. It is interesting to note that CICO Fonti, serie I, vol. IX : Disci- 
plina Generate An [sec. II-IX) carries on pp. 7-8, as numbers 14-17 the canons 
of St. Nicephorus, taken from Pitra, loc. cit., but omits canon 96 ; in his general 
preface to this volume, Amleto Card. Cicognani (writing in 1933) says that ca- 
nons which were not disciplinary (e.g. those having merely moral or rubrical 
value) were omitted. 


impure nor lose its sanctification (unless, naturally, the object is completely 
destroyed). Thus the antimension that has been washed (or, as we have 
seen previously, cut into pieces) still retains its consecration. However, 
since inadvertance is mentioned, it seems certain that canon 16 considers 
the washing of an antimension as undesirable. 

Canon 96, on the other hand, may seem to take a more lenient view, 
tolerating the washing of an antimension in private but not in public ; 
the washing now becomes an accepted (or tolerated) fact, and the place 
where it is washed determines the morality of this action. However, 
in practice, as we have seen, the stricter point of view of canon 16 has 
become the accepted rule for action and from the texts quoted above, it 
is obvious that the washing of the antimension is excluded at least by 
custom,^ and "Custom is the best interpreter of the law." 142a 

Why shoul dthe Byzantines be so reluctant to wash a soiled anti- 
mension ? The most important consideration stems from the Byzantine 
mystique which considers these objects too sacred to be washed : 143 of 
course a practical consideration, especially before the modern widespread 
use of fast colors, 144 is that the design and the inscriptions, and especially 
the date of consecration including the Bishop's signature, might become 
obliterated. 145 Also, the remains of the Sacred Myron (Chrism) with 
which the antimension had been anointed and any fragments of the 
Eucharist adhering to the antimension would be washed away and sub- 
ject to possible profanation : the particles of Relics in the small sack 
fastened to the antimension 146 might be destroyed, washed away, or 
at least loosened. 

142a Cfr. CIC, can. 29 : "Consuetude- est optima legum interpres.", and its 

143 Ferrari, loc. cit. 

144 Even the colors used by the Vatican Press, Rome, for printing the 
Russian Antimensia in January of 1967, tend to smudge when the cloth is 
washed, as I ascertained by experimenting with an unconsecrated antimension. 

145 Permanent ink, such as is used for marking laundry, was practically 
unknown or at least not in general use until very recent times. Most antimensia 
probably had the date of consecration and the Bishop's signature written with 
inks which would easily wash out in water. An antimension whose inscriptions 
are no longer legible must be retired from use, as we saw above, p. 80 ff. 

146 Today this small pouch is almost always sewn to the antimension be- 
fore its consecration ; in former days, however, as is evident by the rubrics still 
carried in some of the liturgical books, it was fastened to the antimension only 
with wax-mastic. Cfr. Braun, op. cit., I, pp. 649-650 ; De Meester, The Great 


Summing up, then, we may say that the preponderance of texts 
and commentaries (as well as practical consideration) give the definite 
impression that the washing of antimensia is something repugnant to the 
Byzantine Church. 147 The simple fact of the washing of an antimension 
does not, however, cause it to lose its usefulness ; if the inscription or the 
Relics have been seriously damaged in the process, it will, of course, have 
lost its usefulness and must be withdrawn from use. This traditional 
discipline has been suggested by Mons. G. Balan 148 and Mons. A. Si- 
piaghin 149 for the projected codification of the section "De Rebus" of 
Oriental Canon Law. 

7. At this point, it would be well to take cognizance of certain 
circumstances under which a new "immoveable" antimension is pre- 
scribed for a consecrated fixed altar 150 : 

Euchologion (Melkite, in Arabic), op. ext., p. 209b, op. cit., pp. 236-239, even if 
the pocket was not sewn to the antimension, after the relics were inserted it was 
often closed only with wax-mastic, cfr. Cinovnik (Sluiebnik), Lvov, 1886, p. 101; 
Cinovnik, Jordanville, 1964, p. 144b ; EYXOAOITON TO MErA, Rome, 1873, 
p. 212; Hapgood, op. cit., p. 508; Maltzew, op. cit., pp. 139-140; Nikolskij, 
Ustav, pp. 811, 815 ; Petrides, EO, p. 202 ; Rajewsky, op. cit., p. 192, etc. 

147 We have cited Greek, Russian, Melkite, and Rumanian sources, besides 
noted commentators, and thus we feel justified in predicating this tradition for 
the whole Byzantine Church. 

148 5. Congregazione Orientale, Codificazione Canonica Orientale, t. VI, 
cc. 1012-1153, 1154-1254, Prot. N. 223/33 "Rumeni", p. 7, can. 1200. 

149 5. Congregazione Orientale, Codificazione Canonica Orientale, t. VI, 
cc. 1012-1153, 1154-1254, Prot. N. 228/33 "Russi", p. 6, can. 1198 : "Russian 
antimensions... when old and worn out, must be burned, never mended nor 
washed, even though if they have been cleansed through inadvertance they do 
not lose their 'sanctification' (vid. Milas, II, p. 574)." "Gli antiminsi russi erano 
stampati soltanto nella tipografia sinodale, secondo l'ucase del 16 gennaio, 1862 ; 
logori e usati, essi dovevano essere bruciati, mai riparati o lavati, bench6 puliti 
senza avvedersene, non perdevano la loro 'santificazione' (v. Milas, II, p. 574)." 

150 Cfr. Petrovskij, op. cit., col. 808 : Nikolskij, Antimins, pp. 61, 81-100. 
Bulgakov, op. cit., p. 710, notes that there is no special ceremony connected 
with the replacing of an old (immovable) antimension with a new one : "When 
he has received a new antimension, the Priest carries it without delay into the 
church, opens the eileton on the altar, puts the antimension sponge on the new 
antimension, and folds the antimension and eileton in the customary fashion, 
placing upon it the Altar Gospel-Book (Evangelary). Some Priests, confusing 
the simple placing of a new antimension in the church with the consecration 
itself of the church by the means of an antimension carry out on this occasion 
(reception of new antimension) some of the ceremonies proper to the consecra- 


1) At the consecration of a new church (and altar) ; 151 

2) After the renovation of an already consecrated church if it is 
now to be consecrated in honor of different Mystery or Saint than its 
previous titular ; 152 

3) At the consecration of a new altar in an already consecrated 
church ; 153 

4) At the reconciliation of a desecrated church ; 154 

5) When the previous antimension has lost its usefulness by be- 
coming too old, frayed, stained, etc. ; 

6) There are certain cases on record in which a Bishop taking pos- 
session of his eparchy (diocese) has consecrated new antimensia to replace 
those consecrated by his predecessors(s). 155 

8. "Another way that the antimension may lose its usefulness 156 is 
the loss of the Relics from the small pouch in which they are fixed (usually 
sewn) to the reverse side of the antimension, or if this pouch becomes 

tion of a church ; but for such a custom there exist neither rubrics, nor decrees, 
nor ecclesiastically determined ceremonies. The celebration of the Liturgy 
immediately after the deposition of a new antimension (on the altar) is not 

151 Or of a "parecclesia" ; since tradition forbids the Byzantines to cele- 
brate more than once a day on the same altar, they often construct within the 
church small chapels which are not mere "side-altars" but complete little chur- 
ches in themselves, each furnished with altar, prothesis, iconostasis, etc. Cfr. 
Attwater, A Catholic Dictionary, op. cit., p. 367 ; Goar, op. cit., p. 13 ; Sala- 
ville, Introduction, op. cit., p. 114. 

152 Atky Istoriceskije, op. cit., II, p. 136, n. 106 : Istoria Rossijskoj Erarchij, 
Moscow, 1812, IV, p. 292 (Letter of Patriarch Philaret to the Hegumenos Se- 
rapion, in 1620). 

153 If the altar has to be replaced or if a new altar, e.g. of silver or gold, 
has been given as a votive gift to replace to old altar, or the same in a parecclesia. 

154 For this concept, cfr. Kiwitz, op. cit., pp. 5 I ~54» 57- 

155 Akty Istoriceskije, op. cit., I, p. 92, n. 48. P.E. op. cit., no. 2, p. 76. 
Fr. Amman gives us the curious note that under the influence of the Greek 
Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch Makarios, the famous liturgical reformer Nikon, 
Metropolitan of Moscow, decided to change the antimensia in all Russian Chur- 
ches in 1655 and for this purpose 15,000 antimensia were consecrated and sent 
out even to the most remote villages to the consternation of clergy and people. 
Cfr. A. M. Amman, Storia delta Chiesa Russa e dei Paesi litnitrofi, Turin : Unione 
Tipografico-Editrice Torinese, 1948, p. 236. Fr. Amman does not give Nikon's 

156 I.e. as a portable altar. 

9 6 

so torn as to make the loss of the Relics imminent ; here we must make a 
distinction : since the loss of Relics does not entail the loss of consecra- 
tion, the antimension may still be used as a type of corporal (if it is 
otherwise still in good condition) on a consecrated fixed altar. To be 
used once more as a portable altar, it must have Relics attached to it 
again or the Relic pouch repaired in such a way as to preclude danger of 
the loss of the sacred Relics. 157 

9. What is to be done with the old antimensia which have been 
withdrawn from service ? In this regard we may distinguish two tra- 
ditions : 1) the antimensia are conserved in a becoming place ; or 2) the 
antimensia are burned and the ashes carefully disposed of. 

The first tradition is drawn predominantly from Russian sources. 158 
In ancient christian Russian, the old antimensia which had been with- 
drawn from use were left on the altar, spread out under the altar cloths 
or placed in a (hollow) Cross behind the altar, or in a special column or 
box to the right of the altar. Thus P.E. (sic), in his article on "Russian 
Antimensia" in the Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate (in Russian), 
reports : 

"There existed a custom of placing the old antimensia in a 
column at the right side of the altar or in a cross in the center 
or in a box. Only later the usage was introduced of sending 
the old antimensia to the sacristy of the Bishop or of the Ca- 
thedral. Thus, for example, in the 'Report on the diocese of 
Vladimir' of 1867, we read : 'The consistory of Vladimir, in 
obedience to the resolution of your Excellency, orders the 
Priest-Sacristans to present to your Excellency the old anti- 
mensia, each wrapped not in a paper but in its proper eileton 
and carried in a becoming box to Vladimir'." 169 

157 As we pointed out above on pp. 50 ff, the presence or absence of relics 
has no effect on the validity of the consecration of the antimension ; however, it 
cannot be used lawfully as a portable altar if it has never had relics or if these 
have been lost. 

158 I.e. written sources ; also, from observation, it may be seen that many 
antimensia are preserved in Russia. However, as we will have occasian to remark 
below, the other branches of the Byzantine Rite know something of this usage 
as can be seen from the antimensia preserved in the museums of Athens (Benaki, 
Byzantine), Belgrade (Patriarchal museum), Grottaf errata (Italo-Greek mo- 
nastery of St. Nilus), etc. 

159 P.E. op. ext., no. 2, p. 76; cfr. also Nikolskij, Antimins, pp. 105- 



and Petrovskij adds : 

« When a new antimension was placed on the altar, the old 
one was not taken away but left on the altar underneath the 
bottom altar cloth (katasarkion, sracica), as is witnessed by the 
many antimensia found in some churches (e.g. in the Monastery 
of Orscina, Tver, and in a church of Novgorod, 12 antimensia) ; 
and from the briefs which accompanied the newly consecrated 
antimensia and which prescribed that the old ones were to 
be kept on the altar, under the new antimension (brief-gramota 
of 1590), or else at the right side of the altar in a column (gra- 
mota of Paul, Metropolitan of Kaluga, 1675), or else in a Cross 
in the center (gramota of Jona, Metropolitan of Rostov and 
Jaroslav, 1686). In the Ritual (Trebnik) of Patriarch Joseph 
there is found a ceremony for the retiring of an old antimension. 
. From the XVIII century (Ukaz of 1735) the antimensia are 
sent to the sacristy of the Cathedral or to the Bishop's personal 
church. At present, there is a precise register of all the anti- 
mensia kept there (Ukaz of Holy Synod, 1842)." 160 

With the Liturgical reform of Patriarch Nikon of Moscow (1652- 
1658, d. 1681) 161 the present practice of the Russian Orthodox Church 
came into use : the antimension, wrapped in its eileton 162 is presented to 
the Bishop who sees to it that it is kept in a special place in his private 
chapel or in the sacristy of the Cathedral (Sobor). In 1842 the Holy 

160 Petrovskij, op. cit., col. 808. 

161 Cfr. Kiwitz, op. cit., pp. 36-37 ; Nikon's reform caused a schism in the 
Russian Orthodox Church because a certain group called now the "Old Belie- 
vers" (Starovjeri) refused to accept his reforms ; this schism endures to this day, 
(although some have returned to communion with the Russian Orthodox Pa- 
triarchate of Moscow) and the "Old Believers" preserve the ancient custom of 
keeping the old antimensia in the particular church where it had been used, as 
described above, instead of sending them to the Bishop. Cfr. Nikolskij, loc. 
cit. ; Solovey, op. cit., pp. 60, 61, 63-64, 75, 78, 79, 82 ; Adrian Fortescue, 
The Uniate Eastern Churches {The Byzantine Rite in Italy, Sicily, Syria and 
Egypt), New York : Frederick Ungar Pyblishing Co., 1923, p. 156, gives the 
interesting information that Nikon was aided in his revision of the Russian 
Service Books (which were supposed to be made more conformable to the con- 
temporary Greek usage) by a certain Paisios (Panteleon) Ligerides, a brilliant 
alumnus of the Greek College in Rome who passed from the Roman Catholic 
Faith to Orthodoxy, becoming the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of Gaza, Pa- 
lestine. He died in 1678 rejected by both Catholics and Orthodox. Thus the 
present usage in the Russian Orthodox Church may have been much influenced 
by a (former) Catholic and Roman student. 

162 Cfr. Bulgakov, op. cit., p. 710 ; Nikolskij, loc. cit. ; P.E. loc. cit. 

8 - J. M. Izzo - The Antimension 

9 8 

Synod of Moscow issued an Ukaz (decree) stipulating that each church 
under its jurisdiction must have a precise register containing all the 
data pertinent to the antimensia belonging to that particular church. 163 
Bulgakov gives minute details as to the method of carrying the old an- 
timensia to the Bishop : 

"It is not permitted to wash a stained antimension nor to 
mend an old or torn one ; but in this case, without delay, the 
Priest (having put on the stole and epimankika-cuffs) 164 pre- 
sents the old antimension, wrapped in its eileton and placed in 
a becoming container, to the Bishop, asking for a new one. If 
the Pastor, because of some plausible reason, cannot go in 
person to receive the new antimension, he may charge the Priest- 
sacristan or other Priests, and in exceptional cases even a Dea- 
con, to do this for him ; in the written request for the anti- 
mension the person to whom it is to be given to carry must be 
specified by name ; receiving the new antimension, the Priest 
pays the established offering for it. In certain deaneries, special 
boxes are made for the transporting of antimensia, lined inside 
with silk and velvet, with a Cross on the outside cover and 
with special locks ; they are made in such a way that the boxes 
may be conveniently carried attached to the breast with rib- 
bons. In the diocese of Cernigov (N.E. Ukraine) the Priest- 
sacristans have the obligation of making two or three containers 
for carrying antimensia (depending on the number of churches 
in the deanery) ; these containers are cardboard boxes, in the 
form of a book, covered with silk or cotton upon which has 
been embroidered a Cross ; they must carry the old antimensia 
wrapped in their eiletons to the Bishop in these boxes. The 
containers must be carried during the voyage tied with ribbons 
or cords upon the breast, underneath the overcoat, and during 
overnight stop-overs and during meals they must be placed 
in the house 165 under the ikons." 166 

163 Petrovskij, loc. cit. ; Shipman, op. ext., p. 564. 

164 Epimanika (Slavonic : poruci), part of the Byzantine Rite liturgical 
vestments worn by Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, are ornamental cuffs. Cfr. 
Hapgood, op. cit., p. xxxviii. They have the practical purpose of retaining the 
loose ends of the sleeves of the under-vestment (sticharion-"alb," or pod- 
riznik) and are thought to be vestiges of the Imperial gloves granted as an honor 
to Church dignitaries by the Byzantine Emperor. 

165 "j n the house under the ikons" refers to the Byzantine custom of 
having in private homes and even public buildings ikons (sacred images), often 
with hanging lamps before them and a lectern (analogion) for prayerbooks, or 
the Holy Gospels, in the east corner of the room, the so-called "Ikon-corner" 
or "Beautiful Corner". 

166 Bulgakov, op. cit., p. 710. 


Judging from many antimensia which I have seen in museums and 
churches 167 in the U.S.S.R., the relics were sometimes removed from the 
old antimensia (to be used for the consecration of new ones) ; the traces 
of where the relics were formerly attached to the antimensia can clearly 
be seen. Some antimensia are exposed for view in museums, 188 and they 
can be very important historical documents because through them we 
can learn when a particular Bishop was in a certain place and at what time. 

Thus Papas Matteo Sciambri in his work Historical Investigations 
Concerning the Greek- Albanian Community of Palermo {in Italian), traces 
the history of a certain Don Gabrieli, Archbishop of Macedonia (1610- 
1614) : 

"Following our Don Gabrieli in his wanderings among the 
Byzantine Rite community in Sicily, it seems that he went to 
Palazzo Adriano (a town 17 kilometers south-east of Piana 
degli Albanese in western Sicily) also. The testimony this time 
is found on an antimension... consecrated by our Don Gabrieli, 
as is apparent from the liturgical inscription which the Bishop 
commonly writes on it as a guaranteee of its authenticity... 
unfortunately the text lacks a date, but it is known that Ga- 
brieli lived in the first half of the XVII century ; in 161 3 he 
was Exarch of the Patriarch of Constantinople. The picture on 
this antimension places it around this time ; a little later the 
picture used begins to be less archaic." 169 

Professor Svetozar Steven Dusancid, Curator of the Serbian Or- 
thodox Patriarchal Museum, in his article "The Antimension as an Object 
of Science" (in Serbian) 170 explains how examination of antimensia in 
regard to their material and to the ornamentation and inscriptions on 
them may reveal important information regarding the history of : 1) the 
frontiers of eparchies (dioceses) and place-names ; 2) Ecclesiastical art ; 

167 Moscow, Zagorsk, Leningrad, Kiev, Odessa. 

168 Of course, in this case due reverence must be observed : there should 
be an indication explaining what an antimension is and giving the pertinent 
details concerning the particular one(s) on view, and of course they must be 
preserved from dust, insects and from being touched. Unfortunately I have 
seen antimensia barely hanging from rusty tacks or nails, covered with dust 
and fly-specks. 

169 Matteo Sciambri, Indagini Storiche sulla Community Greco-Albanese 
di Palermo, Grottaferrata : Tipograria Italo-Orientale "S. Nilo", 1963, P- 97- 
Cfr. also pp. 125-126 of the same work and N. Borgia, J Monaci Basiliani d' Ita- 
lia in Albania, 2 vols., Rome, i935> 1942. vol. I, pp. 28, 25. 


3) Ecclesiastical and secular architecture (he gives example 171 of certain 
city walls and towers, now in ruins, depicted on antimensia) ; 4) Paleo- 
graphy and philology ; 5) textile industry ; 6) Liturgical usages. 

The second tradition regarding the disposal of antimensia with- 
drawn from active use is known especially from Greek sources. Thus 
Protopapas Ferrari says : "After having been used for some time they 
(the antimensia) are burned and the ashes are thrown into the sacrarium 
which lies under the altar/' 172 

DusaniC, 173 Liibeck, 174 Maloney, 175 and the Pedalion 176 concur 
with Ferrari, and Mons. Sipiaghin 177 suggested similar legislation in his 

170 Svetozar Steven Dusanic, "Ahthmhhc Kao HayHHH OSieKTaT" 
("Antimins kao Nauimi Objektat"), IJpKBa KajieHflap Cpncne IlpaBOCJiaBHe 
naTpnjapiiiHje 3a ITpocTy 1947 ToaHHy. [Church Calendar-Yearbook of the 
Serbian Orthodox Patriarchate for the Year 1947), Belgrade : Stamparija "Ra- 
denkobic", J947 (annual), pp. 60-63. 

171 Ibidem, p. 62. 

172 Ferrari, op. cit., p. 106 : "Dopo averli usati per qualche tempo, essi 
si bruciano e le ceneri si gettano nel Sacrario Eucaristico, che giace sotto l'altare." 

173 Dusanic, op. cit., p. 61 : "The greatest destruction of antimensia 
came about through their being burned, when an old antimension was replaced 
with a new one (we prescind from the discussion of whether this replacement 
came about always because of real need or for other reasons). According to 
ecclesiastical tradition, all old or discarded antimensia were burned. This practice 
came about because it was not known how otherwise to dispose of them ; as 
consecrated objects which were no longer useful, they were superfluous, and on 
the other hand it was not fitting that they should lie about neglected in some 
place. Thus burning the antimensia was found to be the most opportune solu- 
tion... If furnished with relics, these were removed first before the antimension 
was burned. For this reason the Orthodox Church has not conserved many anti- 
mensia and especially not those from the remote past. Naturally, this practice 
has done grave disservice to science, since these precious documents were de- 
stroyed for all time." Professor Dusanic has failed to make the above-mentioned 
distinction concerning the Russian Orthodox Church, cfr. above, pp. 96 ff. 

174 Lubeck, op. cit., p. 411 : "It (the antimension) must never be washed, 
but when it is worn out it is to be thrown into the fire." - "Nie darf es gewaschen 
werden, sondern muss, wenn es abgenutzt ist, im Feuer seine Vernichtung sinden." 

175 Maloney, op. cit., p. 1009 : "Only a bishop can consecrate an anti- 
mension, which is never washed but when soiled burned." 

178 Pedalion (Cummings), p. 132: "But if these (antimensia)* com- 
pletely spoiled, some authorities recommend that they be burned up in fire 
(which is best) or be thrown to the bottom of the sea, or be disposed of under 
untrodden ground." 

177 Sipiaghin, loc. cit. : "When old and worn-out, they (antimensia) must 


report to the Commission for the Codification of Oriental Canon Law. 
Naturally, the Relics are to be removed before the antimensia are burned, 
and these can then be used for the consecration of new antimensia. 

Perhaps we may harmonize the two seemingly disparate traditions 
by suggesting that old antimensia be preserved in a becoming place, 
especially if they have some artistic or historic merit, but that when 
there is no such motive, that they be burned (after removing the relics 
and recording all important data) and the ashes disposed of in a fitting 
manner. In fact, the preserving of antimensia according to the Russian 
tradition would lead to the piling up of tremendous quantities of old ones, 178 
and the Greeks have not alway followed their own custom completely 
because there exist many antimensia in Greek museums : 179 thus neither 
branch of the Byzantine Rite has in practice considered its traditions in 
this regard de rigueur, and we may feel free to follow here the dictates of 
common sense, keeping in mind always the respect due to the antimension. 

10. In summation, we make the following remarks : 

1) the antimension loses its consecration only when completaly 
destroyed ; 

2) however, it loses its usefulness (is rendered unfit to have the 
Divine Liturgy celebrated upon it) when it becomes too old, torn, frayed 
or soiled : common sense must be the guide here ; 

3) it is considered undesirable to wash or mend a soiled or damaged 
antimension — it should rather be withdrawn from use ; 

4) withdrawn antimensia should be either kept in a decent place 
and some record kept of the pertinent data regarding them, or they should 
be burned (after the relics have been removed) and the ashes disposed 
of in a fitting manner. 

be burned, never repaired or washed." "Logori e usati, essi dovevano essere 
bruciati, mai riparati o lavati." 

178 Cfr. above, p. 97. 

179 E.g. in the Benaki Museum and the Byzantine Museum, both in Athens, 
and in the museum attached to the Italo-Greek monastery of Saint Xilus 
(S. Nilo) at Grottaferrata, outside Rome. 



We will consider the use of the antimension under its physical 
aspects (material element), i.e. where and how it is used, and under its 
personal aspects (formal element), i.e. the necessity and origin of the 
permission to use the antimension. 

I. Material Element 

As we have seen in our historical section, 1 the antimension originated 
as a portable altar to be used for the celebration of the Holy Mysteries 
outside of a consecrated Church and altar, or in cases where the canonical 
consecration of the altar and /or the presence of Relics was problematical. 
However, with the passage of time, the present custom arose of placing 
antimensions on all altars, even on fixed altars containing Relics and 
regularly consecrated by a bishop. 

Even when the antimension is used as a substitute for a consecrated 
fixed altar, we may distinguish in the Byzantine Rite between moveable 
and fixed antimensia ; moveable antimensia are those which are used 
regularly extra loca sacra (outside of a church or oratory) for the cele- 
bration of the Divine Liturgy ; fixed antimensia are those which are used 
in a established church or oratory in which the altar is an unconsecrated 
table upon which the antimension is placed and habitually remains there.* 
Sometimes, in past times, the fixed antimensia were fastened permanently 
to the unconsecrated table serving as the altar; thus the author who goes 
under the initials, P.E., says : 

"Those antimensia which were distributed for the purpose 
that they would remain always on a particular altar, are called 
immoveable ; they were sewn with thread to the under altarcloth 

1 Cfr. above, pp. 30-32. 

2 Cfr. Nikolskij, Antimins, pp. 61-98. 


(sracia) or even affixed to the altar with nails ; that is why 
these antimensia on the reverse side, rarely on the obverse, have 
reinforced corners. It is obvious that the dimension of these 
antimensia varied: the larger ones were intended to be used 
always in a church, while the smaller antimensia, were more 
convenient to carry about for the celebration of the Divine Li- 
turgy (outside of a Church or oratory)/' 3 

The difference between moveable and fixed (immovable) antimensia 
was at times highlighted by an inscription on the antimension which 
would specify its use. In this regard, Petrovskij, reports : 

"According to the difference between churches to which they 
were consigned, antimensia are distinguished as movable and 
immovable. Movable antimensia are those given for field chur- 
ches or domestic oratories and in general to those places con- 
structed for a limited time only. This particular form is some- 
times characterized by inscriptions such as the following : 'For 
the celebration of the Divine Liturgy in any place whatsoever' ; 
'For use by the (Universal) Church in every place under its 
jurisdiction' ; etc. Movable antimensia were also sent to places 
in which there were no fixed churches (thus in 1858 the Holy 
Synod permitted the use of movable antimensia in the circum- 
scription of Irkutsk, Siberia) ; they were sent temporarily to 
churches which were in the process of reconstruction or reno- 
vation in order that the Liturgy might be celebrated in a pro- 
visory chapel ; and in ancient times they were sent to hermitage 
chapels, constructed in the wilderness for a monastery or for 
the nearby inhabitants (Imperial Decree of 1641). 

"...Immoveable antimensia are those destined for permanent 
churches, i.e. not constructed as provisional measure." 4 

We must examine the use of the antimension then under two 
aspects : its use as a true portable altar outside of a consecrated fixed 
altar, and its use on a consecrated fixed altar as a type of corporal. 

3 P.E. op. ext., no. 2, pp. 75-76. 

4 Petrovskij, op. ext., col. 807-808. We can compare the moveable anti- 
mension with the Latin petra sacra (portable altar stone) used extra loca sacra 
(outside of a church or oratory), and the immoveable antimension with the Latin 
petra sacra used ad modum fixi (i.e. used habitually in a permanent non-con- 
secrated wooden, cement or masonry table or "altar". The Latin petra sacra 
itself is a small slab of stone, usually about I inch (2.5 cm.) thick, eight 
inches (ca. 20 cm.) on a side (these dimensions may vary considerably), con- 
taining relics and consecrated by a Bishop or deputed Priest. Cfr. above pp. 4, 
14, 21, 23, 24 ; below pp. 311-312. 


A. The Antimension Used as a Portable Altar 

The great Byzantine canonist, Theodore Balsamon, notes in his 
commentary on Canon 7 of the Seventh Ecumenical Council that to 
fulfill the prescriptions of this canon directing that the Holy Sacrifice 
be celebrated only on canonically consecrated altars containing the re- 
quisite relics of martyrs, the antimension suffices as a substitute for the 
consecration of the place. 5 The other commentators, as for example St. 
Symeon of Thessalonica, insist that the antimension is in every way equ<\l 
to a fixed altar, receives the same consecration, and "is filled with the 
Glory of God." 6 St. Theodore the Studite, replies to a query regarding 
the liceity of celebrating or concelebrating in a Church being used b 
heretics (probably Iconoclasts), that it is preferable rather to celebrate 
outside -of a church but on an antimension, that is on an altar in the 
form of a linen cloth or wooden tablet. 7 We known from Church Histo- 

5 P.G. 137: 911; also cfr. John of Kitros, op. ext., P.G. 119: 976, "If 
therefore the Church is not consecrated, the sanctifying power of the antimension 
supplies for this deficiency." 

6 Symeon of Thessalonica, op. cit., P.G. 155 : 333, "And everything is 
done to these (antimensia during their consecration) that is done to a fixed altar 
because they are one and the same Holy Table (altar), and they are filled with 
the Glory of God." Cfr. also Manuel Charitoupolis, op. cit., P.G. 119 : 811 ; 
De Meester, op. cit., p. 159. That is why it is strange to find authors who feel 
that the antimension is not a true altar ; thus James Godley, The Time and 
Place for the Celebration of Mass, Washington, D.C. : The Catholic University 
of America Press, 1948 ; p. 172, giving his opinion for the prohibition, contained 
in can. 823, of the Pian-Benedictan Codex Iuris Canonici, for Latin priests to 
celebrate on the Greek Antimension, says: "A Priest of the Latin Rite cannot 
use the antimension, since he must celebrate Mass on a consecrated altar." This 
statement would have to be modified to, "A Priest of the Latin Rite, unless he 
has special faculties, cannot use the Byzantine Antimension, even though it is 
a consecrated altar, because he must, according to Latin Rite tradition, cele- 
brate Mass on a stone altar." No one would deny that the High Altar at the 
Archbasilica of St. John Lateran is a consecrated altar, even though it is a wooden 
table (thought to be the table on which St. Peter or at least the early Popes 
celebrated the Eucharist). This altar was later encased in stone, but the stone 
is only a protective frame or case, and the celebrant (the Pope or his delegate 
with special faculties) celebrates the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass directly touching 
the wooden table which is exposed on its top surface. (The wooden front sur- 
face can be seen by sliding back two small doors in the front of the stone casing 1 ). 
Cfr. below, p. 314. 

7 P.G. 99 : 1056, St. Theodore uses the word "thysiasterion" (0'jaiaa- 
nQpiov), and not the word, antimension, but it is clear that when he speaks of 
celebrating outside of a church on an altar in the form of a linen cloth or wooden 


rians 8 and from Canonists such as Theodore Balsamon 9 that the clergy 
celebrated the Sacred Rites in army camps "under a cotton tent which 
had been designated as a church." 10 

St. Nicephorus, Patriarch of Constantinople (occupied Ecumenical 
Throne 806-815, died 829 A.D.) 11 edited various canons among which 
are some concerned with antimensia ; 12 germane to the present discussions 
is the following : 

"Canon 97 : It is wrong to condemn too precipitously one 
who having an antimension has celebrated the Divine Liturgy 
or baptized 13 in a private place, 14 in a house or on a boat, if 

tablet, that he is speaking of what was later (or contemporaneously by others) 
called an antimension. Cfr. Lubeck, <yp. cit., pp. 402-403 ; Raes, op. ext., p. 60. 
Cfr. above, p. 28 ff. 

8 Eusebius, De Vita Constantini, II, cc. 12, 14, P.G. 20 : 989-992 ; So- 
crates, Historia Ecclesiastica, I, c. 18, P.G. 67 : 123-124 ; Sozomen, Historia 
Ecclesiastica, I, c. 8, P.G. 67 : 880-881 ; cfr. also Shipman, op. cit., pp. 563-564. 

9 Op. cit., P.G. 138 : 965. 

10 Petrides, E.O., p. 198, notes that according to St. Symeon of Thessalonica, 
this ancient custom recalls the portable Tabernacle set up by Moses in the desert. 

11 Nicephorus, a contemporary of St. Theodore Studite, was a valiant de- 
fender of the orthodox doctrine concerning Images and Relics against the Ico- 
noclasts. For his life and times, vid. Paul J. Alexander, The Patriarch Nice- 
phorus of Constantinople, Oxford : Clarendon Press, 1958. Cfr. also Petrides, E.O., 
pp. 195-196 ; Lubeck, ip. cit., p. 403 for questions of authorship of these canons. 

12 For the original text of the canons of Nicephorus, vid. J. B. Pitra, 
Juris Ecclesiastici Graecorum historia et monumenta, Rome : 1864 ff., II, pp. 329, 
337, cfr. below, pp. 275-276. For a translation into French vid. Petrides, E.O., 
p. 196 ; into German vid. Lubeck, op. cit., pp. 403-404. In regard to questions 
concerning the actual authorship of these canons, cfr. Braun, op. cit., p. 93 ; 
Lubeck, loc. cit. (opts for St. Nicephorus I 806-815) '> an ^ Petrides, loc. cit. (opts 
Nicephorus II 1260-1261). Cfr. also Alexander, op. cit., p. 156. Cfr. below, p. B5S. 

13 Baptism is mentioned here because the Byzantine Church (especially 
all the branches of the Orthodox, and of the Catholics, the Russian Catholic 
branch of the Byzantine Rite) conserves until this day the ancient custom of 
giving all the Sacraments of Initiation together : Baptism, Confirmation, and 
Eucharist. Thus Baptism usually takes place in conjunction with the celebra- 
tion of the Divine Liturgy (for which an antimension is needed). Cfr. Balsa- 
mon, op. cit., P.G. 137 : 613, 138 : 965. Also : Ernest Benz, The Eastern Or- 
thodox Church, Garden City, New York : Anchor books - Doubleday & Co., 
x 963, p. 39 : Aristide Brunello, Le Chiese Orientali e VUnione, Milan : Editrice 
Massimo, 1966, p. 169 ; Mercenier, op. cit., I, p. 325 ; Sokolof, op. cit., p. 119 ; 
Timothy Ware, The Orthodox Church, Baltimore, Maryland : Penguin Books, 
1963, p. 286 ; Nicholas Zernov, Eastern Christendom, New York : G. P. Put- 
nam's Sons, 1961, p. 251. 

14 I.e. outside of a place consecrated to Public worship, extra loca sacra. 


sanctified by the presence of Sacred Images, 15 for the clerics 
who follow the Emperors celebrate the Liturgy in the de^ 
and only under a cotton tent set up for that purpose." 

The antimension must be used where a consecrated altar is lacking 14 
on doubtfully consecrated altars 17 and on exsecrated altars ; 18 a priest 
who celebrates outside of a consecrated altar without using an antimen- 
sion should be punished with a year's penance and with ioo prostrations 
(per day). 19 

Nilus Keramenus, Patriarch of Constantinople (1380-1388 A.D.; 
adds that the antimension should be used only in a decent place, separated 
from profane places by a wall or hangings, and should have at its left side 
a Prothesis 20 as do fixed altars. 21 

15 Images are "de rigeur" in Byzantine liturgical worship and are probably 
specifically mentioned here because the Iconoclasts had extirpated the sacred 
Ikons from the churches. In Russia, from about the XVI century on, the mi- 
litary chaplains had complete "Mass-kits" which included portable Ikons to 
be set up in place of the Ikonostasis, for the celebration of the Divine Liturgy 
in the field. 

16 Cfr. John of Kitros, op. cit., P.G. 119: 975; Theodore Balsamon, 
op. cit., P.G. 137 : 614-616, 912 ; De Meester, op. cit., pp. 160-161 ; Lubeck, 
op. cit., p. 407 ; Petrides, DTC, col. 1389 ; Petrides, E.O., p. 197. 

17 Cfr. Manuel Charotoupolis, op. cit., P.G. 119: 812; Patriarch Mat- 
thew, "Letter to Metropolitan of Heraclea", Miklosich and Mueller, Acta et 
diplomata graeca, t. II, pp. 340-341 ; John of Kitros, op. cit., P.G. 119 : 975 ; 
Symeon of Thessalonica, op. cit., P.G. 155 : 313 ; Shipman, op. cit., p. 563. 

18 Cfr. Patriarch Matthew, loc. cit., Petrides, E.O., p. 197. 

19 Cfr. Canon 98 of St. Nicephorus the Confessor : vid. p. 276 below. 

20 The Prothesis (Greek Hp6Qzai<; meaning "preparation" ; Slavonic 
JKepTBeHHHKt Zertvennik indicating "where the Sacrifice is prepared") is a small 
table at the left of the Holy Table (Altar) in the sanctuary. It faces either East 
or North (in a traditionally East-oriented church), and is sometimes found in 
an apse of its own when the East end of the church terminates, as did many 
ancient churches, in 3 apses (the Holy Table itself being in the central apse). 
On the Table of Prothesis, the Priest, assisted by the Deacon, prepares the ele- 
ments of bread and wine in a private ceremony of duration about 15 to 20 mi- 
nutes, before the Liturgy of the Catechumens. At the Great Entrance, the ele- 
ments are carried from the Table of Prothesis in a solemn procession which moves 
out of the North door of the Iconostasis into the interior part of the nave of the 
church and back into the sanctuary through the central door ("Royal Door") 
where they are deposited on the Holy Table. Toward the end of the Litur^v. 
after the Communion of the Clergy and Faithful, the remainder of the Eucharist 
is carried directly from the Holy Table to the Table of Prothesis where it will be 
consumed by the Priest or Deacon after the Liturgy. The Table of Prothesis is 


From the above, then, may draw the following conclusions : 

i) The antimension must be used by the Byzantine Rite Priest who 
celebrates the Divine Mysteries outside of a certainly canonically con- 
secrated altar. 22 

also called the Proskomide (Greek : npoaxojxtSr)) or Proskomedia (Slavonic : 
ripocKOMHflHfl) from assimilation with the Office of Preparation (Proskomedia) 
which takes place on it, and also (rarely) the Paratrapezion (Greek IlapaTpa- 
tt££iov : "side table"). The Table of Prothesis is therefore a liturgical necessity 
in the Byzantine Rite. However, P.E., op. cit., no. i, p. 71 notes that in case of 
emergency the antimension supplies for all which is necessary for Liturgy in- 
cluding prothesis, altar (linens, etc.). It represents the Grotto of the Nativity, 
as is obvious from some of the prayers of the Office of Preparation (e.g. "And 
the star came and stood where the Child was"), and from the fact that it is 
usually furnished with an ikon of the Nativity. In addition to this symbolism, 
Byzantine mystical commentators on the Liturgy see in the fact that the ele- 
ments rest on the Prothesis until the Great Entrance, a reference to the Hidden 
Life of Jesus, and in the fact of the Eucharist being carried to the Prothesis at 
the end of the Liturgy, Christ's Ascension, when he was again hidden from the 
gaze of man. The Table of Prothesis is usually covered with at least one linen 
or silk cloth (it should not be furnished with an antimension, and it is not a 
consecrated altar) ; its approximate equivalent in other Rites (principally the 
Latin Rite) is the credence table, originating out of the necessity of having some 
convenient surface other than the altar itself, on which to place the oblata and 
other things necessary for the Divine Liturgy, cfr. Attwater, op. cit., I, pp. 39, 
224 ; Brunello, op. cit., pp. 156, 562 ; Couturier, op. cit., I, p. 69 ; De Meester, 
op. cit., pp. 198, 211 ; Goar, op. cit., pp. 10-11, 17, 21, 49; V. Laurent, "Le 
rituel de la proscomide de la metropolite de Crete Elie", Revue des Etudes By- 
zantines XVI (1958), pp. 1 16-142 ; Lubeck, op. cit., p. 407; K. Lubeck, "Das 
Kultusgebaude der Greichen", Pastor Bonus, XXV, 223-229 ; Nikolskij, Ustav, 
pp. 13, 805-806 ; Filippo Oppenheim, "Antimension", Dizionario Ecclesiastico, 
vol. I, p. 167 ; Or do Celebrationis Vesper arum Matutini, et Divini Liturgiae iuxta 
Recensionem Ruthenorum ; editio altera, Rome : Sacra Congregatio pro Ecclesia 
Orientali (tipografia Pio X), 1953, pp. 3, 47-57; Sofrone PEtrides, "La preparation 
desoblats dans le rite grec" ; Les Echos d' Orient, III (1899-1900), pp. 65-78 ; Raes, 
Introductio in Liturgiam Orientalem, pp. 35-37, 62-75 ; Salaville, An Introduc- 
tion to the Study of Eastern Liturgies, pp. 23, 112, 137 ; Sokoloff, op. cit., pp. 2, 
9, 14-16, 60-62. 

21 Greek text in Rhalles and Potles, STNTATMA, t. V, pp. 141-142, 
cfr. also Petrides, DTC, col. 1390. 

22 Cfr. P.E., op. cit., no. 2, p. 75 where the author includes a note on the 
morality (according to the Russian Orthodox Church) of celebrating without an 
antimension : "In the Russian Orthodox Church since early times the antimen- 
sion has been an essential and indispensable furnishing of the Sacred Altar. In 
the 'Doctrinal Notices' annexed to the SluZebnik it is said that a Priest commits 
a mortal sin if he celebrates the Eucharist 'outside of a hallowed church without 


2) The place in which the antimension is used must be decent. 23 

3) The antimension may be placed on any convenient flat surface 
and should have another flat surface at its left to be used as a Prothesis; 
no special altar cloths are necessary. 24 

a Holy Table', i.e. Antimension." See also Ferrari, op. ext., p. 107, 110-111 ; 
Raes, op. cit., p. 64. 

23 From what has been said above and from the history of the Antimen- 
sion, it seems clear that it can be used sub dio (i.e. in the open air) ; in this case 
common sense and the respect due to the Holy Mysteries dictate precaution lest 
the elements be upset or contaminated by insects or dust, etc. Cfr. also Braun, 
op. cit., I, p. 92 ; Petrides, DACL, col. 2322 ; Raes, op. cit., p. 65 ; Fonti Orien- 
tali, serie II, fascicolo VII (Textus Selecti Iuris Ecclesiastici Russorum), p. 211, 
no. 683 where a decree of the Holy Synod 19-23 Dec. (sic) 1885 : "The Holy 
Synod has decided to permit according to the will of the Bishops of Eparchies 
(Dioceses) that they may concede... to missionaries and parish Priests permission 
to celebrate the Liturgy on antimensia and portable altars both in oratories and 
chapels as well as other apt buildings, and likewise sub divo." "Sancta Synodus 
decernit permittere arbitrio Episcoporum eparchalium... ut concedant... mis- 
sionariis et sacerdotibus paroecialibus sacrum litare in antiminsii et altaribus 
portalibus tarn in oratoriis et capellis quam in aliis aedificiis ad hoc aptatis, et 
similiter sub divo." 

24 In regard to the altar cloths, we have seen that the Antimension sub- 
stitutes for the entire altar. Even on a duly consecrated altar, as we will see in 
the section following immediately, the Antimension is always the uppermost 
cloth and the Chalice and Diskos (Paten) are placed directly upon it. Cfr. also 
P.E., op. cit., no. 1, p. 70 where it is said that the antimension in case of ne- 
cessity supplies for the Prothesis, Holy Table, and all other altar furnishings. 
The same may be implied from A. Gutierrez, "De linteo benedicti loco altaris 
portatilis pro Missionariis", Commentarium pro Religiosis et Missionariis, 34 
(1955). where, on p. 288 the author contrasts the Latin and Byzantine anti- 
mesia : "This Latin linen cloth (Latin antimension) imitates in a certain 
fashion the Oriental Antimension ; however, it differs substantially from it 
(Oriental Antimension) in that it (Latin Antimension) substitutes only for the 
(portable altar stone (Petra Sacra) : 'All other regulations are to be observed 
which are prescribed by the Rubrics, especially in regard to the use of altar 
cloths and corporal'." "Hoc Linteum Latinum quodmodo imitatur antimen- 
sium orientale ; tamen substantialiter ab eo differt quia tantum substituit 
petram sacram : 'servato de cetero servandis iuxta rubricas, praesertim quoad 
tobaleos et corporaleV The author thus points out that the usual three blessed 
altar cloths and a corporal (cfr. Codex Rubricarum, n. 526) must be used with 
the Latin Antimension which makes it substantially different from the Byzan- 
tine Antimension with which no further altar cloths nor corporal is necessary. 
It would certainly be laudable and in accord with ecclesiastical tradition to cover 
the surface used as Prothesis and that upon which the antimension is to be 
placed with a clean cloth, and to carry the antimension when travelling in the 


B. The Antimension used on a consecrated fixed Altar 

Before treating of the use of the antimension on a consecrated 
altar and the development of this practice, some prenotes on the modern 
Byzantine altar are in order : 

r. The fixed consecrated altar ordinarily consists of a square wooden 
table standing free from the walls of the sanctuary and furnished with 
5 legs or columns firmly affixed to the sanctuary floor or altar platform; 
the four columns hold up the wooden table while the fifth column is a 
shorter one, under the center of the table, on which a coffer of relics is 
placed during the consecration of the altar. Stone altars are sometimes 
to be found, and even metal ones (usually silver or gold) of which modern 
examples are to be found in the Sobor of St. Nicholas in Leningrad and 
in the Skete of St. Andrew on the Holy Mountain (Mt. Athos). 25 

2. The principal altar coverings are two in number : first a white 
linen cloth which covers the top and four sides of the wooden altar table, 
called the Katasarkion (Greek: Kaxacrapxiov ; "against the Body") referring 
to the fact that it is a symbol of the winding-sheet of Christ (as is the 
altarcloth in the Latin Rite). In Slavonic it is called Katasarka, Priplotie, 
or Sracica (KaTacapna, IlpHnjiOTHe, or Cpannua). The Katasarkion is 
fastened to the altar by a complicated series of crossed cords and by 

tradional eileton (to be considered in the section immediately following). Many 
missionaries carry the antimension in a plastic bag or protective covering. In 
regard to the transportation of antimensia Bulgakov, op. tit., p. 710 describes 
the great respect with which the Russian Orthodox clergy used to treat these 
sacred objects : "In certain regions, for transporting antimensia, special coffers 
are constructed, lined inside with silk and velvet, with a cross on the cover, 
and with special locks ; they are made in such a manner that they can be easily 
carried tied to the breast with ribbons... under the outer garments ; during sleep 
and meals these boxes are taken off and placed under the sacred ikons." (with 
which each Russian home and public building was furnished). 

25 Attwater, op. cit., pp. 39-40; Braun, op. cit., cfr. pp. 115-116, 187; 
Brunello, op. cit., pp. 155-156; Consecration et Inauguration d'Une Eglise 
selon le Rituel de VEglise Russe, op. cit., pp. 8-10 ; De Meester, op. cit., pp. 183; 
Goar, op. cit., pp. 10-12, 17-19, 493, 652, 667 ; Mercenier, op. cit., pp. xxi- 
XXIII ; Nikolskij, Ustav, pp. 5-14 ; Ordo Celebrztionis, etc., pp. 3-4 ; Raes, 
op. cit., p. 35 ; Hapgood, op. cit., pp. xxx-xxxi, 493, 614 ; Salaville, op. cit., 
PP- I 33 _I 35 i Sokoloff, op. cit., pp. 10-14. This altar is usually referred to as 
the Holy Table and is called in Greek &ylat Tpaxre^a and in Slavonic UpeCTOJib 
("Throne"). Cfr. Nikolskij, Ustav, p. 5. 


ribbons. 26 The second altar covering is a silk (often brocade) cloth which 
likewise covers the top of the altar and the four sides, called the Endytes 
(Greek evSuTTjc; ; Slovonic PlHHHTHa). It is sometimes changed according 
to liturgical season or feast, bright colors (usually gold or white) being 
used for festive occasions and dark colors (especially dark red or even, 
among the Slavs, although it is not originally a traditional color of the 
Byzantine Rite, black). We may note here that the traditional Byzantine 
Rite does not known a strict sequence of liturgical colors such as is found 
in the Latin Rite. 27 Upon the altar may be placed only the artophorion 
(Tabernacle), the handcross (used for giving Blessings), and the liturgical 
lance and communion spoon, the lention (purificator), the Gospel Book, 
and finally the antimension within the eileton. 

3. "The eileton (Greek eiXyjtov ; Slavonic Mjihtoht,) is a piece of 
cloth, usually a square of red silk, slightly larger than the antimension, 
which lies directly on (or folded within, when not in use) the eileton. A 
Latinism which has crept into the usages of some of the Catholic By- 
zantine Churches is the use of a Latin Corporal on top of the Antimension 
so that the Liturgy is not celebrated directly on the antimension but on 
the corporal ; this Latin corporal is folded within the antimension, re- 
versing the traditional roles of eileton (which the corporal replaces) and 
antimension. 28 

26 Cfr. Hapgood, op. cit., p. xxix ; Koren, op. cit., p. 20 (where the author 
has a diagram showing how to fasten the Katasarkion to the altar) ; Merce- 
nier, op. cit., p. xxii ; Nikolskij, Ustav, pp. 6, 805. The katasarkion is some- 
times preceded by the hyphasmata (Greek \i^aa[i<xxcc) ; four pieces of cloth each 
bearing the image, symbol, or merely the name of one of the four Evangelists 
and fastened to each of. the four corners of the altar. Cfr. Salaville, op. cit., 
p. 124 and above, pp. 5 6 ~57- 

27 Cfr. the authors cited in the immediately preceding notes above, loc. 
cit., also P. Bernakadis, "Les ornements liturgiques chez les Grecs." Les Echos 
d'Orient, IV (1902), pp. 321-325. 

28 Cfr. Attwater, A Catholic Dictionary, p. 165 ; Braun, op. cit., pp. 95- 
520; De Meester, op. cit., pp. 160, 187, 198; Ferrari, op. cit., pp. 105-111 ; 
Goa'r, op. cit., p. 112 ; Lubeck, op. cit., pp. 410-41 1, 414-415 ! Lawrence Man- 
cuso, Byzantine Seraphic Typicon, New Canaan, Connecticut : Franciscan Cu- 
stody of St. Mary of the Angels, U.S.A., 1963, p. 4; Mercenier, op. cit., I. 
p. xxii; Nikolskij, Antimins, p. 119; Nikolskij, Ustav, pp. 7, 127, 428; Petri- 
des, DACL, col. 2321, 2322; Petrides, DTC, col. 1390; Petrides EO, pp. 197- 
199, 202 ; Raes "Antimension, Tablit, Tabot", pp. 59, 64, 70 ; Salaville, op. 
cit.', pp. 135, 152. The Dopolnitelnij Trebnik, Kiev: Pecersk Lavra, 1971. f °l. 
39-40, gives some interesting particulars on the eileton : the eileton can be of 


The antimension 29 lies folded within the folded eileton on the altar 
under the Gospel Book when not in use ; both are folded four times more 
or less like the Roman Rite corporal, except that the order of folding 
is as follows : top, bottom, left, right. 30 

The antimension and eileton are unfolded at the beginning of the 
Liturgy of the faithful ; 31 the elements (on the paten and in the chalice) 
are placed on it after the Great Entrance when they are carried to the 

silk or linen, a little larger than the antimension for which it is destined, no 
specific color metioned. Probably under Latin influence, a special blessing is 
given for the eileton : the eileton is placed on the altar, incensed on all four 
sides, a prayer recited over it, and finally it is sprinkled with Holy Water. Then 
the antimension is placed inside it. 

29 Within the folded antimension traditionally lies a small fine flattened 
sponge about 3 inches (7.5 cm.) square, used for cleansing the diskos (paten) and 
antimension. According to its natural symbolism, it represents the sponge soaked 
in vinegar offered to our Lord on the Cross. It is made by washing a small fine 
"Aegean Silk Sponge" and then allowing it to dry under a heavy weight. The 
Melkites sometimes sew it into a small silk triangle. Cfr. Brunello, op. cit., 

p. l6o; COUTUTIER, Op. Cit., I, p. 69; LUBECK, Op. dt., p. 4II. MERCENIER, Op. 

cit., 1, p. xxv ; Nikolskij, Ustav, p. 18 ; Salaville, op. cit., pp. 155-156 ; So- 
koloff, op. cit., p. 15 ; Petrides, EO, p. 198. 

30 Cfr. Bulgakov, op. cit., pp. 815, 816, 826. Gaetano Moroni, "Cor- 
porale", Dizionario di Erudizione Storico Ecclesiastico, vol. XVII, p. 248 refers 
the symbolism of the folding of the Antimension : "Gemma assigns another 
mystical symbolism to the aforementioned folding of the Corporal (and anti- 
mension) : 'It should be thus folded so that neither the beginning nor the end 
are visible, as was the case with the handkerchief (covering the Face of Christ, 
and left folded in the tomb after the Resurrection - John 20 : 7) in the tomb' " 
"Gemma assegna altro mistero simbolico nella detta piegatura del Corporate : 
"Quod ita plicari debet, ut nec initium, nec finis appareat, sicut etiam sudarium 
in sepulcro'." Cfr. below, p. 188. 

31 The eileton is completly unfolded and the antimension is partially 
unfolded except for the last (upper) fold during the "Insistant Litany" after the 
Holy Gospel ; the last part is unfolded during the Litany for the Catechumens at 
the words "That He open to them the Gospel of Righteousness", or at the final 
invocation (ekphonesis) of the Litany of the Catechumens, "That with us they 
too may glorify Your most honorable and sublime Name, Father, Son, and Holy 
Spirit, now and always, and forever and ever. Amen.", at the end of the Liturgy 
the Antimension (and eiliton) are refolded during the Litany of Thanksgiving. 
Cfr. Amanieu, op. cit., col. 587 ; Bulgakov, loc. cit. ; Cinovik (Jordanville, 
I 9 6 5)» PP- 22, 26 ; Joannes Hanssens, InstUutiones Liturgicae de Ritbus Orien- 
talibus Tomus II, De Missa Ritbuum Orientalium, Pars Altera, Rome : Pontifi- 
cia Universitas Gregorianae, 1932, pp. 265-266 ; Hapgood, op. cit., pp. 90, 92, 
120 ; H. Holloway, A Study of the Byzantine Liturgy, London : The Mitre Press 


Altar of Sacrifice 32 from the Altar of Prothesis ; 33 they remain there 
throughout the Anaphora and the Communion of Clergy and Faithful ; 
then the antimension and eileton are finally folded again 34 after the 
reimainder of the Eucharist is carried to the Prothesis where It will be 
consumed after the Holy Liturgy. This then is the present use 35 of the 

(no date), pp. 21, 198 ; P.E. op. cit., no. 1, p. 72, Nikolskij, Ustav, pp. 429, 426 ; 
Petrides, EO, p. 198 ; Petrovskij, op. cit., p. 803 ; Raes, op. cit., p. 64, Sluiebnik, 
(Rome, 1956), p. 64 ; Ferrari, op. cit., p. 107, compares the Byzantine usages 
relative to the unfolding of the Antimension and its evelopement in the eileton 
with similar usages in the Roman Rite : "The Roman Liturgy, in its Solemn Mass, 
places the opening of the Corporal, as in our (Byzantine) Rite, at the beginning 
of the Mass of the Faithful. It also prescribes like the Byzantine discipline, the 
usage of -not transporting the Corporal to the Altar without its burse, or silk 
lining (eileton)." "La Liturgia Romana, nella sua Messa Maggiore, fa aprire il 
Corporale, come da noi, aH'inizio della Messa dei fedeli. Ed essa pure prescrive, 
come la disciplina bizantina di non trasportare il Corporale sull'Altare, senza la 
borsa, la vostra fodera di seta." Goar, op. cit., p. 112 and Petrides, EO, p. 198, note 
that at this point in the Ambrosian Liturgy there is a special prayer "super 
sindonem." Cfr. Missale Ambrosianum iuxta Ritum Sanctae Ecclesiae Medioalensis 
(Editio Quinta post Typicam), Milan : John Daverio, 1946, pp. xxvn, xxxiv. 

32 I.e. the Holy Table, Hagiha Trapeza, Prestol. Cfr. pp. 21-24. Cfr - 
Hanssens, op. cit., t. 11, De Missa Rituum Orientalium, Pars Prima, 1930, p. 314, 
t. in, pp. 272-274. 

33 I.e. the Prothesis, Zertvennik, cfr. note 20, p. 107. 

34 During the Litany of Thanksgiving, the celebrant makes the Sign of 
the Cross upon the Antimension with the sponge, places the sponge in the center 
of the Antimension and folds the eileton (with the folded antimension within it) 
in the same order, and making the Sign of the Cross with the Altar Gospel Book 
(Evangelary) over the antimension during the ekphonesis or invocation "For 
You are our sanctification and to You do we render glory, Father, Son, and Holy 
Spirit, now and always, and forever and ever. Amen." places the Gospel Book 
down flat upon the Altar which is the permanent disposition of these objects on 
the Holy Table unless they are being used during the Liturgy or unless the anti- 
mension is removed for use as a portable altar outside of the church. Cfr. the 
authors cited above in note 31, p. 185, loc. cit., also Hanssens, op. cit., t. 11. 
p. 317, t. in, p. 528. 

35 Cfr. Lubeck, op. cit., p. 415; Petrides, DACL, col. 2322-2323; Pe- 
trides, DTC, col. 1 3 19 ; Petrides, EO, p. 202 ; Raes, op. cit., p. 64 ; Synodus pro- 
vincialis Ruthernorum habita in civitate Zamosciae anno 1720, 3rd ed., Rome : 
ed. Typographica S. Congr. Prop. Fide, 1883, p. 89. For photographs of the use 
of the antimension, eileton (and Roman Corporal) by the Catholics of the Greek, 
Melkite, Russian, and Ruthenian-Ukrainian Byzantine Rites, cfr. Nikolaus 
Liesel and Tibor Makula, The Eucharistic Liturgies of the Eastern Churches, 
Collegeville, Minnesota : The Liturgical Press, 1962, pp. 144-241, passim. 

Also below, pp. 309-310. 

9 - J. M. Izzo - The Antimension 

II 4 

antimension on a consecrated altar : it is the analog of the Roman Cor- 
poral ; 36 the eileton serves as its envelope. 37 

4. There seems to be some evidence that, at least in Moscow and 
Kiev with their dependencies, that the antimensia were sewn or nailed 
down spread out on the katasarkion (sracica) ; this usage disappeared 
by the XVII century due to a rubric published in the Sluzebnik (Missal) 
of 1655 and of 1658, and a decree published by the Holy Synod of 1666- 
1667 ; thenceforward the Antimension was folded in the eileton and used 
as described above. 38 It is thus used by all the Orthodox Byzantines and 
among the Catholics of the Greek, Melkite, Bulgarian, Georgian, and 
Russian branches of the Byzantine Church. The Ukrainians and the 
Ruthenians, because of a decree of the Provincial Synod of Zamosc in 
1720 39 (which introduced some latinisms - the Sacred Congregation for the 
Oriental Churches desires that the liturgical prescriptions ordained by 
the Synods of Zamosc and Lvov be not introduced in those territories 
where they have not yet been introduced 40 ) , leave the Antimension spread 

36 I.e. insofar as the Holy Mysteries are celebrated directly upon it and it 
is carefully cleaned and folded upon itself lest any particles of the Eucharist be 
left upon the altar or brushed accidentally to the floor. There is an essential 
difference between the two, viz. the antimension must be consecrated by a Bishop 
and may serve as portable altar while the Roman Corporal is merely blessed (by 
priest, although the blessing of the Corporal in the Latin Rite was at one time 
reserved to a Bishop, cfr. Erwin L. Sadlowski, The Sacred Furnishings of 
Churches, Washington, D.C. : The Catholic University of America Press, 1951, 
p. 27, passim., and until recently was reserved only to priests who were Pastors 
or Religious Superiors) and cannot serve as a portable altar. Cfr. Ferrari, op. 
ext., pp. 107-108. We also note that in the Byzantine Rite the Antimension 
serving as a Corporal is consecrated, although it does not usually touch the 
Eucharist, while the Chalice and Diskos (Paten) are not ordinarily (traditionally) 
consecrated, whereas in the Roman Rite, the Corporal is not consecrated (it is 
blessed) although it did have the Eucharistic element of Bread lying directly 
upon it, until the latest changes in the Roman Rite rubrics [Instruction altera ad 
exsecutionem Constitutionis de Sacra Liturgia recte ordinandam, Sacra Congrega- 
tio Rituum, May 4, 1967 ; text and commentary in Notitiae, III (1967), no. 5, 
pp. 169-21 1 ; see III, p. 178) while the Chalice and Paten must be consecrated 
by a Bishop (or Priest with special faculties). Cfr. Ferrari, loc. cit., also Ama- 
nieu, op. cit., col. 587. 

37 Ferrari, loc. cit., compares eileton to Roman burse. 

38 Cfr. Petrovskij, op. cit., p. 803, and above, p. 104. 

39 Cfr. Synodus Provincialis Ruthenorum habita in civitate Zamosciae 
(3rd ed., Rome, ed. Typographia S. Cong. Fide, 1883, tit. Ill, 4, p. 89. 

40 Cfr. "Circular Letter of the Sacred Congregation for the Oriental Chur- 


out under the top altar cloth and use a Roman Corporal in place of the 
antimension and eileton on top of the altar. The reason for this is not 
an appeal to more ancient usage but a practical consideration : to keep 
the antimension from wearing out too quickly due to daily folding and 
unfolding. There are some authors who are opposed to the traditional 
use of the antimension 41 as a corporal : Lubeck deplores the present use 
as a degradation : 

"Thus in the present day practice a function and signifi- 
ficance has been assigned to the antimension completely different 
from that which it had in the past ; formerly, it was used only 
to supply for the lack of an altar or its consecration ; today it 
has been degraded from its function as an altar to that of the 
eileton or corporal. As in many other cases one may note that 
"the Greek Church has forgotten the origin and scope, the pri- 
mitive purpose and the ancient history of its institutes ! 42 
...the use of the antimension among the Greeks has undergone 
a profound evolution, not to say a complete transformation 
which ignores its characteristics and primitive purpose. " 43 

"In conclusion, may we be permitted once more to strongly 
deplore the fact that in the Orthodox Church as well as the 

ches to Ruthenian Ordinaries", io September 1941, Protocl number 1219/28, 
text in Orientala Christiana X, VIII (1942), pp. 136-139. Cfr. also A. Berko 
(translator), Thz Order for the Celebration of Vespers, Matins and the Divine 
Liturgy According to the Ruthenian Recension, Washington, D.C. : (no publisher ; 
printed by "Redeemer's Voice", Yorktown, Sask., Canada), 1957, P- 5 > Joan- 
nes Bilanych, Synodus Zamostiana an. IJ20 (ejus celebratio, approbatio et mo- 
mentum), Rome : Pontificia Universita Lateranensis (Theses ad Lauream n. 161), 
pp. 60, 125-127 ; Marusyn, op. cit., p. 65. 

41 I.e. as a corporal ; cfr. P6trides, EO, quote, p. 202 ; Raes, op. cit., p. 64; 
Salaville, op. cit., pp. 152-155. 

42 A rather unfair statement in view of the many times that Western 
writers appeal to the practices of the Greek Church as witnesses of more pri- 
mitive and traditional practices. 

43 Lubeck, op. cit., p. 411 : "So hat das Antimension, der ehemalige Ersatz 
fur den konsekrieten bew. fehlenden Altar, in der Praxis heute eumeist eine ganz 
andare Rolle und Bedeutung erhalten : von Altare ist es zum einfachen Eiliton 
oder Korporale herabgesunken. Man sieht, die griechische Kirche hat auch in 
diesem wie in so manchem anderen Punkte den Entstehungsgrund und den 
urspriinglichen Zweck, die erste Aufgable und die alteste Geschichte ihrer In- 
stitutionen vergessen ! ...Wenn nun auch hinsichlich des Gebrauches des Anti- 
minsions bei de Greiche eine tiefgehende t)nderung, ja eine vollstandige, die 
Eigenart und die urspriingliche Aufgabe desselben aufhebende Umwalzung 
eingetreten ist..." 


Greek Catholic church, the antimension, in the majority of 
cases, has lost its primitive significance : originally it was meant 
to be the substitute for the consecrated altar ; today, unfor- 
tunately, it has been degraded to a simple eileton or corporal. 
It is to be desired that it will be restored to its former dignity 
and original function ! Its place, prescinding from its use as an 
emergency altar while traveling, etc., is on the unconsecrated 
altar. If we wish to specify the relation of the other altar linens 
with the antimension, the true relationship would be that 
existing at the time of Archbishop Symeon of Thessalonica 
(vid P.G. 155 : 313, 332 ff.) : they should cover it in such a 
fashion that the eileton obtains once more its ancient use as a 
corporal." 44 

In view of this polemic, we must examine, then, the historical and 
canonical basis for the use of the antimension on consecrated fixed altars. 

5. The antimension was the answer to the need for a convenient 
portable altar in troubled times 45 and became widespread with the en- 
thusiasm to comply with the Seventh Canon of the Seventh Ecumenical 
Council. 46 Protopope Ferrari believes that the primitive use of the anti- 

44 Ibid., pp. 414-415 : "Zum Schlusse sei nochmals dem lebhaftesten Be- 
dauren Ausdruck gegeben, dass das Antiminsion in der orthodoxen wie in der 
Katholischen griechischen Kirche seine ehemalige Bedeutung in den weitaus 
meisten Fallen verloren hat, — urspriinglich ein Ersatz fur den konsekrierten 
Altar, ist es heute zur Rolle eines Eliton, eines Korporales herabgesunken. 
Mochte es hene Wiirde und Bedeutung wiederelangen, welche ihme bei seinem 
ersten Aufkommen zustand ! Es gehortum von seinem Gebrauche als Notaltar 
auf der Reise usw. einmal abzusehen- nur auf unkonsekrierte Altare. Will 
man die ublichen liturgischen Linnen richtig bei ihm zur Anwendung bringen, 
dann sind, diese, wie es schon zur Zeit des Erzbischofs Simeon von Thessalonich 
geschah, iiber ihm afzulegen, sozwar, dass das Eliton wieder seine alte Aufgabe 
als Korporale erhalt." 

45 Cfr. above, pp. 28 ff. 

46 Cfr. above, p. 31. It may not be out of place to note here that the anti- 
mension is still explicitly referred to as useful in persecution and other emergencies. 
Thus in the "Doctrinal Notes" McBecHHii YHHTejibHOM appended to the Russian 
Orthodox Sluzebnik (Missal) printed by the Synodal Press in Moscow, 1901, 
fol 239b, it is directed that if during the Divine Liturgy a fire springs up in the 
church, or the roof begins to fall, or if some other such calamity occurs, the 
Priest is to carefully wrap up the Holy Gifts (Eucharist) in the antimension and 
to carry them outside of the church to any suitable place where he may continue 
and finish the Liturgy in safety. Cfr. Mirkovic, op. cit., XXI, p. 119 ; Nikolskij, 
Ustav, p. 8 (where he concludes logically that the Priest is to continue the Li- 
turgy from the point at which he was interrupted) ; P.E., op. cit., no. p. 75. 

ii 7 

mension was precisely as a corporal and that only later, during the Ico- 
noclastic persecutions, were relics added to it and its new scope as a 
portable altar adopted. 

"There are those who equivalate the eileton with the Roman 
Corporal and the antimension with the petra sacra. From what 
we have said it appears clear that the corporal, in its modern 
meaning or better, in its unique modern form, has never existed 
in the Byzantine Church... (Ferrari goes on to note that 'anti- 
mension' may mean in Byzantine Greek 'over the table', i.e. 
an altar covering) ...but the antimension substitutes, at times, 
for the entire altar. And it is necessary to speak of this. Here 
we have in reality a double use for which an object already 
existing for another purpose was adapted. A double use ren- 
dered necessary by the fact that evangelization passed from 
-the small villages where the Priests sent by the Bishop cele- 
brated upon improvised altars... (Ferrari remarks that the in- 
clusion of relics in the antimension was due to necessity of 
complying with Nicaea II but was also due to the vigorous 
reaction against the Iconoclasts and the horror felt when these 
heretics sacrilegiously cast out from the churches the sacred 
Relics of the Martyrs) 47 ... Therefore, to be faithful to the Li- 
turgy and to the Tradition of our Fathers, we conclude : i) There 
has never existed among us the corporal of the modern Roman 
Liturgy ; 2) The antimension, consecrated by a Bishop, serves 
the function of the corporal ; 3) The Byzantine Liturgy and 
Canon Law cannot conceive of a Eucharistic Synaxis without 
an antimension ; the priest who dares to celebrate without one, 
even on a consecrated fixed altar, contravenes the taxative 
norms of liturgical discipline ; 4) on a fixed consecrated altar 
the antimension may (from the X century) or may not have 
Relics sewn to it ; it would be more precise, in this case, to use 
an antimension without Relics, which many call the 'eileton' ; 
if the altar is not consecrated, this eileton (antimension) must 
have Relics attached to it, which are joined to it during the act 
of its consecration. " 48 

47 Thus Philip Hughes, The Church in Crisis : A History of the General 
Councils, 325-1870, Garden City, New York : Hanover House (A Division of 
Doubleaday & Co., Inc.), 1961, p. 151 : "At one moment a law was enacted that 
all the emperor's subjects should swear never again to venerate an image... The 
minority who refused suffered cruelly. An now the emperor (Constantine V) 
went beyond his council of 753. All prayer to the saints was forbidden, and all 
veneration of their relics. These were to be destroyed. From the great basilica 
at Chalcedon the body of the martyr to honour whom it was built, St. Euphe- 
mia, was thrown into the sea. And so the reign of terror continued until Con- 
stantine V died, the feast of the Holy Cross, 775." 

48 Ferrari, op. cit., pp. 108-111 : "Vi e poi chi interpreta EIXt < t6v — Cor- 


6. After the final triumph of the Church over Iconoclasm at the 
end of the VIII century, the antimension, which had been used as a 
portable altar, received a new purpose : it served "ad cautelam" to 
supply for the problematical consecration of churches and altars, to 
quiet scruples, if the re-consecration of these was impractical or un- 
desireable: the canonical consecration of many churches remained doubtful 
or there was present a strong suspicion that they were exsecrated due 
to defilement by heretics. The practical expedient in most cases was to 
use an antimension on the altar, even if it were a fixed altar, if its ca- 
nonical qualifications remained in doubt. Soon the practice arose of 
using antimensia on all altars, a usage witnessed by the fact that ca- 
nonical authors and local synods from the early Medieval times until 
the XVII century take pains to reprobate it, but in vain. 

Thus, Patriarch Manuel Charitopoulos of Constantinople writes 
in answer to a query of Metropolitan Romanos of Dyrrhachium in the 
XIII century : 

"It is not necessary to place antimensia on all Holy Tables 
(Altars) but only on those whose consecration is uncertain. 
For antimensia take the place of the consecration of the Holy 
Tables ; nor are they to be used where the (Holy) Tables are 
certainly (known to be) consecrated." 49 

porale Romano e 'Av-cxuiv<nov — Pietra Sacra, Altare Portatile... Ma l"AvTi[i.7)vai.ov 
sostituisce, delle volte, veramente la Mensa. Ed e necessario parlare di questo. 
Si tratta in realta di un doppio uso a cui e stato adibito un oggetto preesistente 
per altro scopo. Uso doppio, resosi necessario quando l'evangelizzazione, dalle 
grandi citta, dove era e rimaneva il Vescovo, pass6 ai villaggi, dove questi in- 
viava i presbiteri, che celebravano su Mense improvvisate... Per essere adunque 
fedeli alia Liturgia e alia Tradizione dei Padri, concludiamo : 

1) Non e mai esistito da noi il Corporale della Liturgia Romana di oggi. 

2) L'AvTi[i.tvCTtov, sempre consacrato da un Vescovo, ha la funzione del 

3) La Liturgia e il Diritto bizantino non concepiscono una Sinassi Eucari- 
stica senza 'AvTifiivaiov. II Sacerdote che osasse celebrare senza, sia pure 
su Altare consacrato, contravviene alle tassative norme della disciplina li- 

4) Se l'Altare e consacrato l'AvTtuivaiov puo avere cucite delle Reliquie 
(dal sec. X in poi) e pu6 non averle. £ piu esatto, in questo caso l'AvTi{xtvoiov 
senza Reliquie che molti chiamano E£Xy)t6v propriamente. 

5) Se l'Altare non e consacrato 1'EDojt6v deve portare con se le Reliquie, 
che si aggiungono ali'atto della sua consacrazione." 

49 P.G. 119 : 812. 


Archbishop John Kitros writes at about the same time : 

"They (antimensia) are placed on the (Holy) Tables which have 
not been sanctified by a consecration," 50 
The great medieval Byzantine Canonist Matthew Blastares writes 
in his Syntagma (ca. 1335) : 

"Antimensia.. are principally placed on those (Holy) Tables 
which have not been sanctified by a consecration " 51 

The difference beween the texts of John of Kitros and that of 
Blastares, posterior by about a century, is the fact that Blastares had 
added the word "principally" or "fitly" (xup[wc;) 52 thus weakening the 
force of the injunction. Apropos these texts, Fr. Alphonse Raes remarks: 
"The Antimension had been invented to replace the conse- 
crated altar ; this is the judgement of Balsamon. It is not ne- 
cessary to place them on all altars, but only on those about which 
there is a doubt concerning their consecration, opines Patriarch 
Manuel Charitopoulos II. Matthew Blastares (circa 1335) is 
less rigid : 'The Antimension is placed principally on non- 
consecrated altars." 53 

After noting these same fonts, Petrovskij says : 

"The Greek Trebniks (Rituals) ...prescribes that the an- 
timensia, after the consecration of the church, remain upon 
the altar for only seven days, during which time the Liturgy 
must be celebrated upon them each day ; once this period has 
been completed, the antimensia are removed and the Liturgy 
is celebrated only on the eileton (Goar, Euchologium, p. 884). 
However, because of the affirmation of Blastares 'antimensia 

50 P.G. 119 : 976. 

51 P.G. 144 : 1060. 

52 Cfr. A Lexicon Abridged from Liddel and Scott's Greek-English Lexicon, 
Oxford : The Clarendon Press, 1958, p. 401. 

53 Raes, op. cit., p. 63 : "U Antimension a ete invente pour remplacer 
l'actuel consacr6 ; c'est l'avis de Balsamon. II n'est pas n6cessaire de la mettre 
sur tous les autels, mais seulement lorsqu'on doute s'il est consacre, pense le pa- 
triarche Manuel Charitopoulos II. Matthieu Blastares (vers 1335) est moins ri- 
gide : on met l'Antimension principalement sur les autels non consacres." Cfr. 
also Amanieu, op. cit., col. 587 ; Korolrvskij, op. cit., col. 498 ; Lubeck, op. 
cit., pp. 405-406, 408 ; Petrides, DACL, col. 2321-2322 ; Petrides, DTC, col. 
1390 ; Petrides, EO, p. 197- 


are placed principally' , some are of the opinion that antimensia 
are to be sometimes placed on altars consecrated by a Bishop 
and that in this case the antimensia do not have relics in them... 
Therefore, the altars consecrated by a Bishop originally were 
not furnished with antimensia. We find a directive rubric in the 
Trebnik (Ritual) of the epoch of Patriarch Nikon (of Moscow, 
1652-1658, d. 1681) which repeats literally the above-mentioned 
prescriptions of the Greek Trebniks (Rituals). But such a usage 
endured for but a brief time." 54 

These authors are more or less content to infer that the use of the 
antimension on a consecrated fixed altar is a useless duplication, because 
it consists in using one altar superimposed upon another, a portable 
altar (the antimension) upon a fixed one. 55 But Matthew, Patriarch of 
Constantinople, in a letter to the Metropolitan of Heraclea, written in 
January of the year 1400, uses stronger language : 

"The primitive purpose for which the antimension was insti- 
tuted was to permit the celebration of the Holy Mysteries in 
places where there was no consecrated altar in order to give 
Communion to the moribund or to the newly baptized, or even 
out of devotion in favor of the Emperors while in voyage, 
Exarchs or Priests on a particular mission, Bishops making the 
visitation of a vast diocese. However, where a fixed consecrated 
altar is to be found, it is bad taste and ostentatious (dbreipox- 
ccXtcc xai iiziSeifyc,) , treating an altar as if it were interdicted 56 
or desecrated by placing an antimension on it before celebrating. 
If a Bishop does this in the diocese of another, he should be 
treated as an usurper. 57 If a Priest who owns an antimension 
uses it in this capricious manner, ostentatiously and with bad 
taste, he should be deposed and the antimension sequestered, 
even if it had been given to him by a Metropolitan or Patriarch. 58 

64 Petrovskij, op. ext., col. 800-801. 

55 In this vein, cfr. Lubeck, op. ext., p. 405 ; Salaville, Introduction, 
pp. 153-155 ; Petrides, EO, p. 198. 

56 Cfr. authors above cited, loc. ext. ; also Petrides, DACL, col. 2322. 

67 We must remember that in the Byzantine mystique, the consecration 
of an altar by a Bishop denotes a sharing in the Apostolic Succession, and that 
using the same altar for the celebration of the Holy Mysteries is a type of "com- 
municatio in sacris" ; cfr. Ferrari, op. cit., p. 107. 

68 As we will see in the section on the formal or personal element in the 
use of the antimension, the giving of an antimension by a Bishop to a Priest 
implicitly includes the Privilege of the Portable Altar; conversely, then, its 
sequestration by the competent ecclesiastical authority would entail the implicit 
cessation of this privilege. Cfr. below, pp. 133 ff. also Braun, op. ext., I, p. 92. 

12 1 

But if this Priest owns the antimension because it is necessary 
and if the uses it only where there is no consecrated fixed altar, 
or when such a one has lost its consecration, he should be allowed 
to keep it, provided that he uses it to celebrate in a decent 
place." 59 

Despite Patriarch Matthew's injunction of brooking no nonsense 
in this matter, this canonical writing, as Fr. Joseph Braun notes, cannot 
have had a wide nor lasting effect because the practice of using antimensia 
on all altars, even certainly canonically consecrated fixed altars, shortly 
spread until it became universal. 60 

7. In modern usage, 61 therefore, the antimension is found on all 

59 For Greek text, cfr. Miklosich and Mueller, Acta et Diplomata Graeca 
Medii Aevi Sacra et Profana Collecta, Vienna, i860 ff., II, pp. 340-341. For 
German translation, cfr. Braun, op. ext., I, p. 96 ; Lubeck, op. cit., pp. 407-408. 
For French : P6trides, EO, p. 197. 

60 Braun, op. cit., I, p. 96 : "Des Patriarchen Schreiben hatte keinen, 
jedenfalls ber keinen nachhaltigen Erfolg. Die Praxis, auch auf konsekrierten 
Altaren ein Antimisions zu gebrauche, verbreitete sich immer mehr, bis sie 
zuletzt allgemein ublich war." Cfr. also Petrovskij, loc. cit. 

61 Cfr. R. Aigrain, Liturgia, Paris : Libraire Bloud et Gay, 1931, p. 894 ; 
Amanieu, op. cit., col. 587 ; Braun, op. cit., I, pp. 91-92, 523 ; Brightmax, 
op. cit., 569 ; C. Charon (alias Cyril Korolevskij), Le Rite Byzantin dans les 
Patriarcats Melkites, Rome : Tipografia Propaganda Fide, p. 214 ; Courturier, 
op. cit., I, p. 68 ; De Meester, op. cit., pp. 160-161 ; Dmitrevskij, op. cit., p. 96; 
John Aloysius Duskie, The Canonical Status of Orientals in the United States, 
Washington, D.C. : The Catholic University of America Press, 1928 ; Ferrari, 
op. cit., pp. 109-111 ; Goar, op. cit., p. 112 ; James Godley, Time and Place for 
the Celebration of Mass, Washington, D.C. : The Catholic University of America 
Press, 1948, p. 172 ; K. Kallinikos, O Xpicmavixo? Na6?, Alexandri, 1929, 
pp. 208-216 ; Lubeck, op. cit., pp. 405-406 ; F. J. Moreau, Les Liturgies Eucha- 
ristiques, Paris: Vromant & Cie., 1924, pp. 97-98; Nabaa, op. cit., p. 203 ; Ni- 
kolskij, Antimins, pp. 81-100 ; P6trides, DACL, col. 2322 ; P6trides, DTC, col. 
1391 ; Petrides, EO, pp. 198, 202 ; Petrovskij, op. cit., col. 801-802 ; Raes, 
op. cit., pp. 59, 63-64, 70 ; Michael Rajewsky, Euchologion der Orthodox- 
Katholischen Kirche, Vienna : Druch Von L. C. Zamarski & C. Dittmarsch. 1861, 
pp. xxxv-xxxvi ; Eusebius Renaudot, Liturgiarum Orientalium Collectio, 2 
vols., II, ed., Frankfurt am Main : Joseph Baer, 1847, vol. I, p. 165 ; Rhallis 
and Potlis, op. cit., V, p. 413 ; Salaville, Antimension, col. 643-644 ; Sala- 
ville, Introduction, p. 153; Shipmann, op. cit., p. 564; Evan. Theodokoi . 
'"AvTi|XY]vaiov", METAAH EAAHNIKH ErKYKAOIT AIAEI A , Athens: A Martinos. 
1963, vol. II, pp. 870-871 ; P. M. Trempelas ' " AvTtjjLYjvaiov' ' , ©pttctxsjtixt; xal 
' H6ixf) " EyxuxXoTT., Athens: Pyrsos, 1924, vol. IV, pp. 880-881. 


altars. 62 Some authors as we have noted above, 63 deplore this use of 
the antimension and would like to see a return to its primitive and ex- 
clusive function as a portable altar. Thus Sophrone Petrides : 

"As for employing an antimension on a consecrated altar, 
this constitutes on the part of the Orthodox an absolutely 
unjustifiable innovation : The Catholics would do better to 
hold to the more ancient tradition." 64 

But, cannot we allow for change in Liturgical usage a gradual de- 
velopment, starting in the early Middle Ages, at first resisted, but then be- 
coming an almost universal custom ? The first legislation which we have 
to witness the change in usage is in the Russian Orthodox Church which, 
in the Council of Moscow, 1675 A.D., decreed that "antimensia should 
be placed on every altar, whether it had been consecrated by a bishop 
or not." 65 

62 Charon, loc. ext., mentions that some Melkite Catholics unnecessarily 
place an old antimension under the topmost cloth of the table of Prothesis and 
even in the Tabernacle (Greek: Artophorion; Slavonic: Darokhranitelnica). This 
practice is noted also by Aigrain, Joe. ext., and Filippo Oppenheim, "Antimin- 
sion," Dizionario Ecclesiastico, Turin : XX Unione Tipografico-Editrice Torinese, 
1953, vol. I, p. 167. Though this custom is contrary to the Byzantine tradition 
which uses the antimension only on the Holy Table and then only during the 
Liturgy of Faithful, it probably arose from a sense of great respect for the Holy 
Eucharist and also the problem of what to do with old antimensia (we will treat of 
this latter problem in the next section). However, the present author has seen By- 
zantine (Catholic) priests place the chalice containing the Eucharist (remaining 
after the Communion of the Clergy and of the Faithful) on the small chalice Veil 
(deuteron Kalymma, Pokrov) rather than directly on the cloth covering the Ta- 
ble of Prothesis, when the Eucharist has been transferred there towards the 
end of the Liturgy. The point is that there seems to be a tendency towards re- 
luctance to allow the Sacred Vessel containing the Eucharist to rest on a mere 
cloth ; we must remark however, that this tendency is to be resisted as an un- 
necessary innovation contrary to accepted Byzantine liturgical practices. 

63 Cfr. above, p. 115 ff. 

64 P6trides, EO, p. 202 : "Quant a l'emploi de V antimension sur un autel 
consacr6, il constitue a l'actif des orthodoxes une innovation absolument inju- 
stifiable : les catholiques feraient peut-etre mieux de s'en tenir a l'ancienne tra- 

65 Cfr. Shipman, op. cit., p. 564. Cfr. also Raes, op. cit., p. 64 ; Sluiebnik, 
Moscow : Synodal Press, 1901, fol. 2266, 227a, 232b ; SluZebnik, Sofia : Bulgarian 
Orthodox Press, 1924, p. 427. 


In fact, a modern Greek Catholic author, Protropope Joseph Fer- 
rari states : 

"The Byzantine Liturgy and Canon Law do not conceive 
of a Eucharistic Synaxis without an antimension. The priest 
who dares to celebrate without one, even if on a consecrated 
altar, contravenes the taxative norms of liturgical discipline. 

And in regard to the Russian Church, Fr. Alphonse Raes says : 

"Almzaov notes that there is today in the Russian Churcl , 
a strict obligation, not only under pain of mortal sin, but 
under the pain of invalidating the sacrifice." 67 

Ferrari reports the same type of extreme statement for the Greek 
Church f 

"The episcopal consecration of the eileton (i.e. antimension) 
is so important, according to Byzantine theology, that some 
ecclesiastical writers go so far as to impute invalidity to a 
Liturgy celebrated without a consecrated eileton (i.e. the anti- 
mension used on consecrated fixed altar). However extreme 
such texts may be, it is certain however that the whole Byzan- 
tine Church considers as schismatic the priest who would celebrate 
without an antimension... Consequently, to celebrate without 
an antimension signifies, in the Byzantine mystique, to undertake 
the most sublime and august Liturgical action while torn away 
from the Apostolicity, the Catholicity, the Unity of the Church." 68 

66 Ferrari, op. ext., p. in : "La liturgia e il Diritto bizantino non conce- 
piscono una Sinassi Eucaristica senza il Sacerdote che osasse celebrare senza, 
sia pure su Altare consacrato, contravviene alle tassative norme della disciplina 

67 "Raes, op. ext., p. 64: "Almazov rappelle que e'est la, aujourd'hui dans 
l'Eglise russe, une obligation stricte, non seulement sous peine de peche mortel, 
mais sous peine d'invalider le sacrifice." Cfr. A. Almazov, Xeizdannye kano- 
niceskie otvety Konstantinopolskago patriarkha Luky Khrizoverga I mitropolita 
Rodossokago Nila, Odessa, 1903, p. 55, CICO Fontes, serie II, fascicolo V, p. 226; 
P.E., op. cit., no 2, p. 75. 

68 Ferrari, op. cit., p. 107: "E la consacrazione episcopale dell' EIXt 4 t6v 
e talmente importante, per la Teologia Bizantina, che qualche scrittore ecclesia- 
stico giunge fino a tacciare di invalidity una Liturgia celebrata senza Ei>.r < r6v 
consacrato. Checche ne sia di simili tesi estreme, certo h per6 che tutta la 
Chiesa Bizantina considera quale scismatico un sacerdote che celebrasse senza 
'"Avri{iivaiov". "Celebrare, pertanto, senza 'Avxi^tvatov', signinca, nel concetto 
bizantino, compiere la piu sublime ed augusta azione liturgica, avulsi dalla Apo- 
stolicita, dalla Cattolicita, dalla Unita della Chiesa!" 

I2 4 

While the present author is certain that most competent theo- 
logians, both Orthodox and Catholic, would repudiate the imputation of 
invalidity to a Liturgy celebrated without an antimension (or for that 
matter, without any altar at all), these texts do demonstrate the strict 
obligation to use a consecrated antimension even on a consecrated fixed 
altar in the Byzantine Rite. At the present time we cannot agree with 
those authors who opt for immediate change in this custom of using anti- 
mensia on all altars, consecrated or not. 68a 

8. In conclusion, we note two facts : i) this usage of the consecrated 
antimension on all altars, even consecrated fixed altars, has become a 
canonically legitimate custom, even an obligation ; 2) In the Second 
Vatican Ecumenical Council's Decree on the Catholic Churches of the 
Eastern Rite, Orientalium Ecclesiarum, it is stated : 

"All Eastern Rite members should know and be convinced 
that they can and should always preserve their lawful liturgical 
rites and established way of life, and that these should not be 
altered except by way of an appropriate and organic develop- 
ment." 69 

Therefore there is no reason why the practice above-described 
should not be assiduously retained unless and until legitimate canonical 
and liturgical ecclesiastical authority should decide otherwise. 70 

68a Cfr. below, pp. 225 ff. 

69 Number 6. English translation from : Walter Abbott and Joseph 
Gallagher (editors), The Documents of Vatican II, London : Geoffrey Chapman, 
1966, p. 376 ; the original Latin text of the Decretum de Ecclesiis Orientalibus 
Catholicis, November 21, 1964, n. 6, is as follows : "Sciunt ac pro certo habeant 
omnes Orientales, se suos legitimos ritus liturgicos suamque disciplinam semper 
servare posse et debere, ac nonnisi ratione proprii et organici progressus muta- 
tiones inducenda esse." Cfr. also Johannes M. Hoeck's commentary on this 
article, Herbert Vorgrimler (gen. ed.), Commentary on the Documents of Va- 
tican II (5 vols.), New York : Herder and Herder, 1967, vol. I, pp. 317-319. 

70 We should note here that Pope Clement VIII and Pope Benedict XIV 
explicitly approved the use of the Antimension for the Italo-Greeks and for the 
Ruthenians (Ukrainians) under the same circumstances under which they were 
used by their Orthodox counterparts, that is even on consecrated altars and cele- 
brating the Eucharist directly upon the antimension without intervening corporal. 
We will treat of these Papal pronouncements below in the section concerning 
"The Antimension in the Liturgical and Canonical Tradition of the Latin Church" 
(since the decree themselves were largely concerned with the inter-ritual use 
of the antimension), pp. 149-160. Cfr. Benedict XIV, Constitution Etsi Pasto- 
ralis, May 26, 1742, nn. 17-18 (Fontes CIC, vol. I, p. 744) ; Constitution Imposito 


II. Formal Element 

We turn our attention at this point to the personal or formal ele- 
ment with regard to the use of the antimension by clerics of the Byzan- 
tine rite in its primary function as a portable altar: the necessity of 
permission to use the antimension as a portable altar and the ecclesiastical 
authority competent to grant it. Thus we distinguish the material element, 
which is the portable altar itself (whether it be a consecrated stone, wooden 
tablet, or antimension, according to the rite involved), the substitute for 
a consecrated fixed altar, from the formal element, the Privilege of the 
Portable Altar, which is the permission given by the competent eccle- 
siastical authority to celebrate the Divine Mysteries outside a consecrated 
church or oratory, using one of the aforementioned substitutes for the 
consecrated fixed altar. 71 It is of this formal element that we intend to 
treat in this section. 

1. It is evident that no permission is needed to use the antimension 
on a consecrated fixed altar in its role as a species of corporal ; in fact, 
it is a liturgical necessity. 72 

2. As a preliminary remark, in regard to Byzantine Catholics, it 
would be well to note that the supreme Pontiffs have explicitly approved 
the use of the antimension by the clergy of the Byzantine rite in communion 
with the Apostolic See of Rome. Because of the alleged doubtful loyalty 
to the Ecclesiastical authorities of their adopted country on the part of 
some of the early Greek and Albanian immigrants in Calabria and Sicily, 73 
the first statements on the use of the antimension are somewhat cautious. 
Especially the use of antimensia on already consecrated (by Catholics) 
fixed altars must have seemed strange to the Latins and smacking of the 
suspicion that the Byzantines considered that these altars had not been 
validly consecrated or that the Byzantine Priests were chary of entering 
into communion with the Latins by using their altars. 74 Thus Pope 
Clement VIII, in his instruction Sanctissimus of August 31, 1595, says : 

Nobis, March 29, 1751, nn. 6-7 (Fontes CIC, vol. II, pp. 309-310), where Pope 
Benedict XIV also quotes a decree of Pope Clement VIII of the year 1602 ; En- 
cyclical Allatae Sunt, July 26, 1755, n. 36 (Fontes CIC, vol. II, pp. 4 71-4 7- ! 
also Amanieux, op. cit., col. 587-589; Lubeck, op. cit., p. 414: Petrides. EO, 
p. 202 ; Salaville, Introduction, p. 154. 

71 Cfr. Bliley, op. cit., pp. 43~49, 97 > "0-112 ; Hhnxv. op. cit., p. 36. 

72 Cfr. above, pp. no ff. 

73 Cfr. below, pp. 151 ff- 

74 We must remember that the Byzantine canonists themselves from the 


"It would be well if the Greeks wished to accept portable 
altars consecrated by Latin Bishops ; if, however, they do not 
wish to do so, their practice of placing their antimensia or 
"Thrones' ' on stone altars when they celebrate may be tolerated. 
They must use corporals like the Latins, unless they use the 
Thrones (antimensia) even for corporals." 76 

Pope Benedict XIV repeats this statement word for word in his 
Constitution Etsi Pastoralis of May 20, 1742. 76 Moreover, this same 
Pontiff declares in his Constitution Imposito Nobis, March 29, 175 1 : 

"It was never the intention of the Latin Church 77 that the 
Rites of the Greeks be destroyed, but rather that they be always 
conserved as far as possible, and indeed their observance has 
been recommended to the Greek Catholics ; consequently the 
celebration of Mass on such antimensia by Greek Catholics was 
never rejected, but rather expressly declared as permissable 
not only in the Orient 78 but even among the Italo-Greeks ; 79 
this can be observed from both the Instruction published by 
pour Predecessor of happy memory, Pope Clement VIII, and 
from our own Constitution Etsi Pastoralis." 80 

early middle ages until the XVII century reprobated the practice of using anti- 
mensia on regularly consecrated altars, saying that it was bad taste and equi- 
valent to considering the altar under interdict. Cfr. below, p. 120. 

76 CIC Fontes, I, n. 179, p. 344 : "Si Graeci velint accipere Altaria porta- 
tilia ab Episcopis Latinis consecrata, bene erit ; sin minus, tolerentur eorum an- 
timensia, sive Throni, super Altaria lapidea ponendi, cum celebrant. Corporalia 
ut Latini habeant, nisi thronis etiam pro corporalibus utantur." Sanctissimus 
is directed to the Italo-Greeks. 

76 CIC Fontes, I, n. 328, p. 744. Etsi Pastoralis is addressed to the Italo- 
Greeks and Albanians of the Byzantine Rite in Italy. 

77 This has always been true of the Popes, but not always of Latin Rite 
Bishops and Religious in Calabria and Sicily. Of course, we have the famous 
example of the Greek Rite Monastery of St. Nilus at Grottaferrata (Cryptafer- 
rensis) a few miles outside Rome. For a thorough treatment of this whole ques- 
tion, cfr. Adrian Fortescue, The Uniate Eastern Churches, The Byzantine Rite 
in Italy, Sicily, Syria and Egypt, New York : Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., 
1923, pp. 21-184. 

78 Therefore all Byzantine Rite Catholics are included, not only Italo- 

79 The reason for this distinction between Byzantine Rite Catholics in 
the Orient and in Italy will be seen below, pp. 149 ff. 

80 CIC Fontes, II, n. 410, p. 309 : "Quum vero numquam Ecclesiae Latinae 
mens fuerit, ut Graecorum Ritus destrueret, quin potius eorum semper conser- 

I2 7 

A. As used by a Bishop of the Byzantine Rite 

We have already 81 alluded to the fact that any Byzantine terri- 
torial Bishop may consecrate antimensia and send them even outside 
the confines of his own territory. . Merely titular Bishops are not widely 
known in the Byzantine Rite ; 82 of course, they may obtain this faculty 
from the Sacred Congregation for the Oriental Churches. If a Bishop 
can consecrate antimensia, it would seem implicit that he can use them 
(extra loca sacra) ; however, we have an explicit declaration to this 
effect by Nilos, Patriarch of Constantinople (1379-1388). In a rather long 
and diffuse passage, Patriarch Nilos states that the Liturgy is our prin- 
cipal means of salvation and union with God and that it should therefore 
be celebrated with fitting pomp in a place especially consecrated to God 
for this purpose. However, it often happens that the military or the 
Imperial Court must travel in locales where there are no churches. Also, 
hermits who are priests have need of the Eucharist to further their sanc- 

"We have found that it was established by the Fathers of the Holy 
Councils that to these (army, court, hermits) were given a consecrated 
altar in the form of a wooden plank or a linen cloth." 83 Those who have 
received this antimension should use it in a place separated from the 
profane by a wall or curtain. It should have at the left-hand side a 
Table of Prothesis, somewhat smaller than the table on which the anti- 
mension has been placed. "Not only the Patriarch, but also the Metro- 
politans and Bishops in their Eparchies (dioeceses)" have the right to 

vationi, quantum fas esset, nec non eorumdem apud Graecos Fideles observantiae 
prospexerit ; numquam proinde Missarum celebratione, quae super huiusmodi 
Antimensiis a Graecis Catholicis fit, improbavit, sed earn, et quidem non in par- 
tibus Orientis dumtaxat, verum etiam inter Italo-Graecos, permitti expresse 
declaravit ; ut videre licet turn in Institutione per fel. rec. Praedecessorem no- 
strum Clementem Papam VIII edita, turn nostra Constitution, qua incipit : Etsi 
Pastoralis." Imposito Nobis was directed to the Latin Rite Missionaries, the 
Cardinals of the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, and the 
Byzantine Rite Catholics of Russia, the Ukraine, and Byelo-Russia ("White 

81 Cfr. above, p. 55 ff. 

82 Cfr. Coussa, op. ext., I, p. 319- 

83 Although at the time Patriarch Nilos writes, wooden antimensia must 
have been comparatively rare. Cfr. above, pp. 22, 25, 27-32, 33"34- 6*. 105. 


to act thus. The faithful must respect these portable altars in the same 
manner as the consecrated fixed altars of churches. 84 

B. As used by a Priest of the Byzantine Rite 

In regard to the use of the antimension as a portable altar by 
Priests of the Byzantine Rite, we must distinguish the use of an antimen- 
sion by a Priest to hallow a chapel or oratory, from its use outside of a 
sacred place (extra loca sacra). 

I. To hallow a Chapel or Oratory 

When a Byzantine Rite Bishop is somehow impeded, as for exam- 
ple by reasons of health or the distance to be covered, from going per- 
sonally to consecrate a church, chapel, or oratory, 85 he may give a con- 
secrated antimension to a Priest with the commission to bless 86 the place 

84 Rhalles and Potles, op. cit., V, pp. 141-142. Cfr. also Coussa, op. cit., 
I, p. 317 ; Gedeon, op. cit., II, pp. 57-59 ; Lubeck, op. cit., p. 407 ; Petrides, 
DACL, col. 2322, EO, p. 197. It is strange to find the following inaccurate state- 
ments among emminent western authors : Pietro Card. Gasparri, Tractatus 
Canonicus de Santissima Eucharistia, 2 vols., Paris : Delhomme et Briguet, 1897, 
I, no. 290, p. 207 : "At super antimensia celebrat simplex tantum sacerdos, non 
vero episcopus." ; John A. Abbo and Jerome D. Hannan, The Sacred Canons 
(II revised ed.), 2 vols., St. Louis, Mo. : B. Herder Book Co., i960, I, p. 822, 
note 42 : "Antimensia are cloths used by priests of the Greek Rite for the ce- 
lebration of Mass ; they are not used by bishops of that Rite. The fact that in 
that Rite only one altar is consecrated seems to have given rise to the use of 
these cloths. They are blessed when a church is consecrated." 

85 " Prayer -house " in Greek, oTxo<; z\>xqrripioc,, in Slavonic mojihtbch- 
HhiXT> jxom.. Cfr. Aloysius H. Feldhaus, Oratories, Washington, D.C. ; The 
Catholic University of America Press, (Canon Law Studies Number 42), 1927, 
pp. 7-8, 11-19; The Statute of the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church of 
America (Official Texts, English and Russian), 1964, (no publishing data; pro- 
bably published in New York and available from diocesan offices at 59, East 
Secondo Street, New York 3, New York) : Article VI, section 126 (sic), p. 126 : 
"Section 37. Services in House of Prayer. In houses of prayer services of the day 
and te-deums may be celebrated in the usual form, but in cases worthy of special 
consideration, with the permission of the diocesan authority, the Divine Liturgy 
may also be celebrated on an antimins." (antimension). Our Lord Jesus Christ 
said, quoting Isaias 56 : 7, "My house will be called a house of prayer." {Matthew 
21 : 13 ; Luke 19 : 46). 

86 The Byzantine Church, like the Latin Church, makes a distinction bet- 
ween objects and places which are consecrated and those which are simply blessed. 
Cfr. De Meester, op. cit., pp. 157, 161, and especially p. 208. Also above, pp. 78, 
128 ; below, p. 199. 


so that it may be used for Divine Worship, and so solemnly entrhro the 
antimension on the fixed altar which has been simply blessed and not 
consecrated. 87 In this case, the use of the antimension on a non-con- 
secrated fixed altar in the Byzantine Rite is the analog of the use of a 
portable altar-stone on a non-consecrated permanent or fixed altar (the 
so-called quasi-fixed altar or altar e ad modum fixi) 88 so common, at 
least for side altars (minor altars), in the Latin Rite. Evidently, this is 
not the use of the portable altar extra loca sacra. As for the minister of 
this dedication, it may be any Priest although one constituted in some 
ecclesiastical dignity (e.g. Archimandrite, Hegumenos, Archpriest) 89 is 
preferred. 90 Thus Father Denis Kiwitz, o.f.m., says : 

"The Russian priests enjoyed the right of church dedication, 
besides that of church foundation and reconciliation, very early. 
The dedication, being an act of great importance, became a 
privilege of a certain class of priests, generally those belonging 

87 For the text of the ceremony of the dedication of a church or oratory 
by a Priest by means of an antimension, cfr. Trebnik, Kiev : Pecersk Lavra, 
1864, fols. 348-342b ; Trebnik, Rome : Vatican Polyglot Press, 1951, III, pp. 
171-204. For translations of this ceremony, cfr. Malzew, Begrabniss-Ritus, op. 
cit., part. II, pp. 143-155 (Slavonic with German translation) ; Rajewsky, op. 
ext., part III, pp. 193-198 (German). For more particulars : Balsamon, P.G. 
137 : 613, 138 : 965 ; Blastares, P.G. 144 : 1288 ; De Meester, op. cit., pp. 
I 57~ I 5 8 » l6o » 161-163, 208-214, 548; Kiwitz, op. cit., pp. 54-59; Mirkovic, 
op. cit., p. 120; Nikolskij, Antimins, pp. 59-60; Nikolskij, Ustav, pp. 815-823; 
P.E. op. cit., no. 1, p. 71, no. 2, p. 75, no. 3, p. 66 ; Petrovskij, op. cit., col. 798. 
For an English translation of the text of this ceremony, cfr. below, p. 285 ff. 

88 This is the terminology used by the Sacred Congregation of Rites, cfr. 
31 aug. 1867, ad 1, Deer. Auth., n. 3161 ; also Bliley, op. cit., pp. 13-14, 99-100. 

89 Without going into many technical details, an Archimandrite is a title 
given to the abbot of an important monastery or monasteries, while an Hegu- 
menos, is an abbot of an ordinary monastery ; these titles are very often given as 
merely honorary titles (similar to Latin Monsignor) to deserving religious (and 
by abuse even to unmarried secular) priests. Archpriest (literally "First Priest" - 
Protohiereus, Protopresbyter, Protopapas) is an honorary title (cfr. Monsignor 
of Latin Rite) given to deserving diocesan (secular) married or unmarried priests. 
Archimandrites and Archpriests are often mitred and have special liturgical 
privileges. Some Archimandrites may confer minor orders. For more details, 
cfr. CICO Fontes, serie II, fascicolo X (De Meester, De Monachico Statu Iuxta 
disciplinam Byzantinam) pp. 195-197 and passim ; Leon Clugnet, "Les Offices 
et les dignit6s ecclesiastiques dans l'Eglise grecque", Revue de VOrient Chritien, 
III (1898), pp. 142-150, 260-264, IV (1899), pp. 116-128; Coussa, op. cit., I, 
pp. 321, 345-356 ; Posposhil, Law on Persons, op. cit., pp. 57~6o. 

90 Cfr. De Meester, op. cit., pp. I57» 210 » Nikolskij, Ustav, p. 797. 

10 - J. M. Izzo - The Antimension 


to cathedrals or monastic churches. Among the Russians every 
effort was made to obtain the highest church dignitaries for 
the performance of the dedication ceremonies. The right of 
dedicating churches by those minor prelates, however, was not 
a permanent one, it was applied as a privilege, a delegation, 
and performed with the Bishop's permission. The Bishops 
would give it only when there was a sufficient reason and even 
then they specified it exactly. The Metropolitan of Novgorod, 
Alexander (1590), considered as a sufficient reason for sacerdotal 
dedication, the great distance of the church from his see. The. 
'sacerdotal dedication' was performed 'by an antimension.. 
This was a 'typically' Russian way of permitting a priest to 
dedicate a church. From such dedication developed the 'sa- 
cerdotal formulary'." 91 

As Fr. Kiwitz notes, the dedication of a church (or chapel, oratory) 
by a Priest (i.e. one not in episcopal orders, a "simple Priest") using an 
antimension and a special ceremony is a principally Russian (or better, 
Slavonic) innovation. The Greek compiler of the Pedalion criticizes this 
practice : 

"...the dedication ceremonies of every church building must 
be performed by a prelate (i.e. bishop) in accordance with the 
ordinance and representation of the Euchologion. Hence, 
though in many regions the prelates allow others to perform 
the dedication ceremonies connected with the consecration of 
church buildings, as in fact, in Moscow the prelates allow archi- 
mandrites to dedicate divine temples, this, I say, is done in 
violation of the ordinance of the Euchologion. For everywhere 
both the Euchologion and Symeon Archbishop of Thessalonica, 
whenever they mention the subject of dedication, specify a 
prelate or bishop, and not a mere priest. As for the small de- 
dication (i.e. using the antimension), it is neither mentioned in 
the Euchologion nor known in Moscow what it is. It appears 
to be a later invention." 92 

However, it seems that Theodore Balsamon (c. 1170) is not entirely 
ignorant of this custom ; thus in his Commentary on the Seventh 
Canon of the Seventh Ecumenical Council, he says : 

"Some have asked why it is that today altars are conse- 
crated without Relics and by simple Priests instead of by a 
Bishop. To these it must be answered that this is done by means 

Kiwitz, op. cit., pp. 57-58. 
Pedalion (Cummings), p. 437. 


of the antimensia which are consecrated by the Bishop when he 
consecrated a Temple (church) and sent to Prayer Houses 
(oratories) where they suffice for the consecration, i.e. the de- 
dication, enthronization, inauguration and opening." 93 

Furthermore, as Archimandrite Placidus De Meester points out, 94 
many editions of the Greek Euchologion (deriving from former Venetian 
editions) completely lack the ceremony for the consecration of a church 
and carry instead only two short prayers to be used at the dedication of 
a church ; 95 could it be possible that this "serious and incomprehensible 
lacuna" is a witness to the time when, during the Turkish occupation of 
Greece (XV to XIX century), the Greek Bishops were forbidden to con- 
secrate new churches and perhaps had to delegate this faculty to Priests 
to be done by means of an antimension ? 96 In any case, it should be 
clear that here we are quibbling over the fact of whether or not there 
should be a special ceremony for the dedication of a sacred place by means 
of an antimension : the whole Byzantine tradition declares that the 
antimension itself supplies for and furnishes the place with the same 
sanctification as the episcopal consecration of a church, whether or not 
a special ceremony for enthroning the antimension is used or not — such 
a ceremony is a non-obligatory but very fitting outward sign. 

2. Outside a Sacred Place 

In regard to the circumstances under which the antimension may 
be used as a portable altar outside of a chapel or oratory, Patriarch Nilos 
of Constantinople says that it may be used by a Priest on behalf of the 
Emperor when he travels, of troops on the march and other military 
manoeuvers, and by solitaries in places where there are no churches. 97 
Patriarch Matthew of Constantinople, writing to the Metropolitan of 
Heraclea in January of the year 1400 A.D., 98 rules that a Priest may 

93 P.G. 137 : 912. 

94 De Meester, op. cit., p. 181. 

95 E.g. the Roman edition of the ETXOAOriON TO MErA, pp. 458- 
459 ; they are to be found also, with a translation from Greek into Latin, in Goar, 
op. cit., pp. 653-655. 

96 Goar, op. cit., p. 666 seems to intimate this. 

97 Cfr. above, pp. 127-128. 

98 Miklosich and Mueller, Acta et diplomata graeca, II, pp. 340-341 ; 
Gedeon, op. cit., II, pp. 61-62. 


celebrate the Divine Mysteries on an antimension in order to give Holy 
Communion to a dying person or to the newly baptized, 99 or even from 
motives of devotion in favor of the Emperor, Chorbishops, 100 Exarchs, 101 
and missionary Priests while travelling and by Bishops with large dio- 
ceses when they are making a visitation of their territories. 

3. Symeon of Thessalonica (d. 1429) declares that a priest must 
have permission to use the antimension as a portable altar : "It is not 
lawful for Priests to use these (antimensia) for celebrating without the 
permission of the Bishop." 102 Theodore Balsamon allows that he who 
uses the antimension even illegitimately does not sin against the canons 
forbidding the celebrating the Divine Mysteries outside of a consecrated 
place. 103 Thus a Priest who uses an antimension without permission, 

99 It is the Byzantine tradition to give, even to infants, all of the Sacra- 
ments of Initiation together : Baptism, Chirsmation, (Confirmation, admin- 
istered by the Priest), and Eucharist. That is why the antimension is mentioned 
in connection with Baptism : the Baptism must take place in conjunction with 
the Divine Liturgy in order that the neophyte may be communicated. Cfr. Er- 
nest Benz, The Orthodox Church, London L Darton, Longman & Todd, 1962, 
p. 73; Sokolof, op. ext., p. 119; Timothy Ware, The Orthodox Church, Bal- 
timor, Maryland : Penguin Books, 1963, p. 286 ; Nicholas Zernov, Eastern 
Christendom, New York : G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1961, p. 251. 

100 Chorbishops were originally Bishops ordained for outlying country di- 
stricts (from the Greek x^P a meaning countryside) and were dependant upon 
the supervision of the Bishop of the nearest large metropolis ; as a canonical 
institute, it disappeared almost completely around the VIII c. due to the ine- 
vitable disputes between the Chorbishops and the urban Bishops. It exists today 
as a mere title of honor, for the most part, the cognate of the Latin Rite title of 
Monsignor given to a Priest (one not in episcopal orders) among the Catholics of 
the Syrian Rite, the Chaldeans and the Maronites, and among the Nestorians 
and the Jacobites. Cfr. Attwater, A Catholic Dictionary , p. 93 ; Bertrand 
Kutscheid, o.f.m., Historia Juris Canonici (reimpressio), Rome: Omcium Libri 
Catholici, 1950, pp. 60-63, 257-263 ; Victor Posphil, Code of Oriental Canon 
Law, The Law on Persons, Ford City, Pennsylavania : St. Mary's Ukrainian 
Catholic Church (printed by "America", 817 N. Franklin Street, Philadelphia, 
Pa.), i960, p. 208. 

101 Exarchs are analogous to the Latin Rite Vicar Apostolic, and may 
be either a Priest or a Bishop, cfr. Attwater, op. cit., p. 182 ; Pospishil, op. 
ext., p. 166. 

102 P.G. 155 : 333. Cfr. also : Beveridge, op. cit., P.G. 137 : 615 ; Bal- 
samon, P.G. 137 : 613-616 ; Fontes CICO, serie II, fascicolo VII, n. 683, p. 211 ; 
Nikolskij, Antimins, p. 99. 

103 P.G. 138 : 965 : "For which reason, he who celebrates with an antimen- 
sion, or baptizes in an oratory which has not been consecrated... or in a boat or 


outside of the case of grave necessity, to celebrate, offends against obe- 
dience but not against Canon 31 of the Council of Trullo 104 nor Canon 7 
of the Second Council of Nicea 105 and does not become anticanonical 
nor does he incur the penalties of deposition and infamy threatened in 
these canons. In the same vein, Canon 97 of the canons attributed by 
Cardinal Pitra to St. Nicephorus the Confessor, Patriarch of Constan- 
tinople (806-815) states : 

Can. 97 "One must not too hastily condemn a priest who, 
using an antimension, has dared to sacrifice or to baptize in a 
private place, in a home or on a boat, if the place was made 
suitable 106 by the presence of Holy Ikons, since the clerics who 
follow the Emperor celebrate the Divine Liturgy even in the 
desert under a mere cotton tent erected for that purpose." 107 

4. Who is the competent ecclesiastical authority to grant the Pri- 
vilege of the Portable Altar using the antimension to a Byzantine Rite 
Priest and what formalities are connected with act ? It would seem that 
Byzantine rite Eparchs (diocesan Bishops) are the competent authorities 
for granting this permission and that it is implied 108 in their consigning 
an antimension to a particular Priest under their jurisdiction to keep for 
his own use (i.e. not for the specific purpose of hallowing a particular 
church or oratory) ; this may even be specified in the inscription on the 
antimension. 109 Thus Theodore Balsamon says of antimensia "They are 

in some small edifice destined for divine worship and adorned with Holy Ikons, 
cannot be condemned as a transgressor of the canons." Cfr. also John Kitros, 
P.G. 119 : 976. 

104 Cfr. P.G. 137 : 612. 

106 Cfr. P.G. 137 : 909-912, and above, p. 31. 

106 Literally "made holy" ; no doubt this clause about the necessity of 
Ikons was dictated by the struggle against the Iconoclasts. 

107 p ITRA> p, cit., II, p. 337. Cfr. below, Appendix I, p. 276, for original text. 

108 Pedalion (Cummings«, p. 327 : "...the Priests who receive these (anti- 
mensia) from Prelates, it would appear, by implication receive at the same time 
also permission to celebrate the Liturgy with them..." 

109 Petrides, EO, p. 200, reports inscriptions in Greek on two antimensia 
which both mention " that the Holy Liturgy may be celebrated on it in all 
the places of the Kingdom of Christ our God (i.e. everywhere)...". Petrovskij, 
op. cit., col. 807, speaking about moveable antimensia used as portable altars, 
says : ','The particular attributes of these antimensia are characterized many 
times by inscriptions such as the following : 'for the celebration of the Liturgy in 
any place whatsoever' (an antimension in the Bishop's residence at Kursk) ; 


a witness of the Bishop's permission to celebrate the Liturgy in oratories 
(i.e. unconsecrated places)." 110 

St. Symeon of Thessalonica, as we have seen in the preceding para- 
graph, requires the Bishop's permission for the use of the antimension as 
a portable altar ; implied is the Bishop's competence to give this faculty. 
Father Joseph Braun, s.j., speaking about the difference between the 
Latin portable altar stone (i.e. materially considered, not the Privilege 
of the Portable Altar) and the Byzantine antimension, after noting first 
that the antimension, unlike the Latin portable altar stone is used even 
on consecrated altars, states : 

"Secondly, the Priest who has received from his Bishop an 
antimension, may celebrate upon the same in any convenient 
place, therefore even outside a church or blessed oratory, without 
the need for any further particular permission from the Bishop. 
This faculty is given once and for all simultaneously with the 
reception of the antimension and by means of it." 111 

Archimandrite Placidus De Meester, o.s.b., treating of the same 
matter says : 

"Outside of case of necessity, is the permission of the Bishop 
necessary to celebrate on an antimension ?... In practice, out- 
side of the cases of necessity and expediency already mentioned, 112 
this permission is at least tacitly granted by the Bishop, since 
the priests must receive the antimension from his hands." 113 

'to be used by the Holy Church in every place under her jurisdiction' (antimen- 
sion in the Bishop's residence at Minsk) ; etc.". Cfr. also Nikolskij, Antimins, 
pp. 61-80, 229-259 ; P.E., op. cit., no. 3, p. 67, Sciambra, loc. cit. 

110 P.G. 137 : 616. Cfr. also Mirkovic, op. cit., p. 120 ; Petrovskij, op. 
cit., col. 800. 

111 Braun, op. cit., I, p. 92 : "Zweitens darf der Priester, dem der Bischof 
ein Antiminsion gegeben hat, auf demselben an jedem passenden Orte, also aucb 
ausserhalb der Kirche oder eines geweiten Oratoriums zelebrieren, ohne dass er 
hierzu weiter noch einer besonderen bischoflichen Erlaubnis bediirfte. Ermach- 
tigung hierzu ist ein fur alleman zugleich mit der t)bergabe des Antimisions und 
durch dieselbe erteitl." 

112 Cfr. the reasons given above, p. 133. Cfr. also De Meester, op. cit., 
pp. 161-162. 

113 De Meester, op. cit., pp. 162-163 : "Fuori del caso di necessita, per 
celebrare sopra un antiminsio e necessario il permesso del vescovo ?... In pratica, 
oltre i casi di necessita e di convenienza teste esposti, tale permesso e almeno 
tacitamente concesso dal vescovo, poiche i sacerdoti debbono ricevere l'antimin- 
sio dalle sue mani." 


Protopapas Joseph Ferrari traces the origin of this privilege : 

"In the East, following the most ancient tradition according 
to which one celebrates only on a consecrated linen, it was 
considered as a natural, consequence that it was sufficient to 
give to a Priest the faculty to take the episcopal altar Jinen 
(antimension), authorizing him to use it to celebrate any- 
where/' 114 

In the report regarding the codification of Oriental Canon Law which 
Archimandrite Cyril Korolevskij made to the Sacred Congregation for 
the Oriental Churches, he states that (for a Bishop) : 

"To give an antimension to a Priest is equivalent to granting 
Jiim the Privilege of the Portable Altar : he may celebrate 
anywhere as long as it is in a decent place." 115 

5. In addition to the discipline peculiar to the Byzantine Church 
just cited, there is recent legislation for the universal Catholic Church 
apropos the antimension which throws some new light on this privilege 
as regards those Orientals in union with the Apostolic See of Rome. 
According to the provisions of the Motu Proprio Pastorale Munus 116 

114 Ferrari, op. cit., p. 109 : "In Oriente, seguendo l'usanza antichissima, 
per cui non si celebraba che sui lini consacrati, si giudico naturale che bastasse 
dare facolta al Presbitero di prendersi il tovagliuolo episcopale, autorizzandolo 
a celebrare con esso ovunque." 

115 Cyril Korolevskij, "Greci e disciplina bizantina in generale, studio 
sui canoni 801— 1011", 5. Congregazione Orientale, Codificazione Canonica Orien- 
tate, Prot. N. 199/32, pp. 13-14 : "Dare l'antimensio ad un sacerdote equivale a 
concedergli il privilegio della cappella privata ; egli pu6 celebrare ovunque pur- 
che, sia in un luogo decente." (I have translated "il privilegio della cappella pri- 
vata" by "Privilege of the Portable Altar" because that .seemed more intelligible 
given the context : cfr. Welsh, op. cit., pp. 54-56). He suggests the canon 822, 
3 : "Privilegium antimensii, vel tabulae portatilis, quando non ecclesiis sed pri- 
vatis personis conceditur, ita intelligenda est ut secumfert facultatem ubique 
celebrandi, honesto tamen ac decenti loco, numquam autem in cubiculo." and 
adds : "Quando un Vescovo Orientale concede ad uno dei suoi sacerdoti il pri- 
vilegio dell'antimensio, il beneficiario pu6 usarne anche fuori dell'eparchia, e 
perche nel diritto canonico orientale detta concessione e riservata al Vescovo ed 
oltrepassa le facolta di un Superiore religioso qualunque." 

116 Official Latin text in AAS, 56 (1964). PP- 5~i2. English translation 
(by Frederick R. McManus) in Jurist, 24, (1964)' PP- 99~io6. 


promulgated by Pope Paul VI on November 30, 1963, which pertains 
also to Oriental Bishops, 117 and lists : 

"1. Faculties which belong to the residential Bishops by law 
from the moment of his having canonically taken possession 
of the diocese, but which cannot be delegated to others, except 
to coadjutor and auxiliary Bishops and the vicar general unless 
this is expressly mentioned in the faculties." 118 

we find the following faculties : 

"7. To grant to priests the faculty of celebrating Mass upon 
a consecrated stone, outside of a sacred place, but in a place 
that is becoming and decent, never in a bedroom, for a just 
cause in individual cases, but habitually only for a graver 
cause." 1,9 

"8. Likewise, to concede the faculty of celebrating Mass for 
a just cause at sea and on rivers, necessary precautions being 
taken." 120 

"9. To grant the faculty to priests who enjoy the indult of 
the portable altar that, for a just and serious cause, they may 
use in place of a consecrated stone a Greek antimension or a 
cloth, 121 which has been blessed by a Bishop, and at the right 
hand corner of which there are enclosed the relics of holy martyrs, 
likewise examined by the Bishop, all else being observed in 

117 Cfr. Bartholomaeus I. Belluco, o.f.m., Novissimae Ordinariorum Lo- 
corum Facultates, Rome : Pontificium Athneum Antonianum, 1964, pp. 48-52. 

118 Pastorale Munus, I : "Facultates quae iure Episcopi residentiali com- 
petunt a momento canonice captae dioecesis possessionis, quas tamen aliis, 
praeter quam Episcopis Coadiutori et Auxiliaribus atque Vicario Generale, 
delegare non potest, nisi in iisdem expresse dicatur" : The list of faculties follow 
this title. Cfr. Belluco, op. cit., pp. 27-52, for further commmentary. English 
translation from McManus, op. ext., p. 99. 

119 Pastorale Munus, I, 7 : "Concedendi sacerdotibus facultatem Missam 
celebrandi extra locum sacrum, sed loco honesto et decenti, numquam autem in 
cubiculo, super petra sacra, per modum actus ex iusta causa, habitualiter autem 
solummodo ex causa graviore." Cfr. Belluco, op. cit., pp. 75-81. English tran- 
slation from McManus, op. cit., p. 100. 

120 Pastorale Munus, I, 8 : "Item, concedendi facultatem Missam ex iusta 
causa celebrandi in mari et in fluminibus, debitis adhibitis cautelis." Cfr. Bel- 
luco, op. cit., pp. 82-83. English translation from McManus, loc. cit. 

121 The linteum, or linen cloth, here spoken of is the antimension latinum 
or Latin Rite antimensium, of which we will speak below, pp. 173 ff. 


accordance with the rubrics, 122 especially with regard to altar- 
cloths and corporal." 123 

This decree is directed to the universal Catholic episcopate, yet 
only the faculty to celebrate extra loca sacra on a petra sacra is specifi- 
cally mentioned among these new faculties ; this is an indirect confirma- 
tion, at least as far as Catholic Orientals are concerned, that Byzantine 
Bishops always had the right to give the faculty to celebrate extra loca 
sacra but using the Byzantine antimension and therefore there is no 
need to grant this anew through article 7 of Pastorale Munus 124 . It is 
unthinkable that the legislator: a) would have wished to grant this 
faculty to permit Priests to celebrate extra loca sacra only to Latin Bish- 
ops ; or b) that he wished to grant this faculty to the Oriental Bishops 
but with the proviso that they allow their (Oriental) Priests to celebrate 
only on the petra sacra when celebrating extra loca sacra, especially when 
enlarged faculties to make use of the Byzantine and Latin forms of the 
antimension were given in article 9 of the same decree. Another indirect 
argument confirming the claim of the Byzantine episcopate to this right 
is the fact that in Cum Admotae (the next decree to be discussed), which 
is a partial extention of the faculties of Pastorale Munus to Religious Su- 
periors, we shall see that a new privelege of celebrating extra loca sacra 
using the Byzantine antimension only, may be granted by certain Re- 

122 I.e. the rubrics of the rite involved, not necessarily those of the Latin 
Rite since this provision affects all bishops, not only Latin ones, and all their 
subjects of whatever rite. 

123 Pastorale Munus, O, 9 : "Concedendi facultatem sacerdotibus, indulto 
altaris portatilis fruentibus, ut, iusta et gravi de causa, pro petra sacra adhibere 
valeant Graecorum antimensium, vel linteum, ab Episcopo benedictum, in cuius 
angulo dextro sint reconditatae reliquiae Sanctorum Martyrum, pariter ab Epi- 
scopo recognitae, servatis de cetero servandis iuxta rubricas, praesertim quoad 
tobaleas et corporale." Cfr. Belluco, op. cit., pp. 84-87. English translation 
from McManus, loc. cit. 

124 Or perhaps we may say that since this decree is directed to the uni- 
versal Catholic episcopate, and since the Orientals ordinarily do not use the por- 
table altar stone, the term petra sacra must here be interpreted as the portable 
altar peculiar to the particular Rite ; antimension for Byzantines, wooden tablet 
for Syrians, Copts, and Ethiopians, etc. In any case, we feel that the privilege 
of the Byzantine Bishop to grant to his Priests the privilege of celebrating exit a 
loca sacra using the antimension has been sufficiently clearly proven in the pre- 
ceding pages even without the necessity of recourse to Pastorale Munus, except 
as a merely corroborating testimony. 


ligious Superiors to their Oriental subjects ; we may thus draw the con- 
clusion that because only Byzantine Bishops, and never Religious Su- 
periors, always had the right to grant this privilege to their Priests, it 
was considered necessary to specifically mention this faculty in Cum 
Admotae but not in Pastorale Munus. 

According to article 9, a Byzantine Bishop could grant to his Latin 
subjects already enjoying the Privilege of the Portable Altar given by the 
Holy See of Rome, 125 permission to substitute either the Byzantine or 
Latin antimension 126 for the petra sacra. 

A Pontifical Rescript dated November 4, 1967, 127 and addressed 
to "The Supreme Moderators of Clerical Religious Institutes iuris pon- 
tificii and to Abbots President of Monastic Congregations," 128 delegates, 
among others, the faculty : 

"4. To concede to priests subject to them the faculty of ce- 
lebrating Mass in a religious house outside a sacred place, but 
in becoming and decent place, with the exception of a bedroom, 
upon a sacred stone, or, if there is a question of Orientals, 129 
upon an antimension. The faculty may be granted only per 

125 Belluco, op. cit., pp. 86-87, believes that the grant of the Indult of 
the Portable Altar must have been granted by the Holy See and not simply by 
the bishop according to the provisions of Pastorale Munus, I, 7 ; but admits 
that the opposite opinion is not altogether improbable. Cfr. also : L. Buijs, s.j., 
Facultates Religiosorum concessae Rescripto Pontificio diei 6 novembris 1964, 
Rome : Pontificiae Universitas Gregoriana, 1965, pp. 47-49 ; Bartholomaeus 
Belluco, o.f.m., Facultates Superiorum Religiosorum Rescr. Pont. d. 4 nov. 
1964 concessae cum adnotationibus , Rome : Pontificium Athenaeum Antonia- 
num, 1966, p. 62. 

126 Cfr. footnote 117, p. 136, above. 

127 The Rescript is dated November 4th, but in the first paragraph mention 
is made that the Rescript was granted November 6th, 1967. The Latin text has 
not been published in the AAS ; for Latin text cfr. Belluco, Facultates Supe- 
riorum Religiosorum, pp. 9-17 ; Buijs, op. cit., pp. xv-xx. For English transla- 
tion (by Frederick R. McManus) cfr. Jurist, 25 (1965), pp. 11 5-1 20. (Paulus VI, 
Rescriptum Pontificium Cum Admotae, datum die 6 Novembris 1964, ed. altera 
(with ammendations), Rome, Vatican Polyglot Press, 1965 ; also Belluco, 

128 Rescript Cum Admotae, I : "Supremis Moderatoribus Religionum cleri- 
calium iuris Pontificii, et Abbatibus Praesidibus Congregationum Monasticarum 
hae, quae subeunt, facultates delegantur." : cfr. McManus, op. cit., p. 115. 

129 Since the word "Orientals' and not specifically "Byzantines" is used, 
this faculty may be given to a Priest of any Oriental Rite, even to one to whom 
the use of the antimension is not proper. Cfr. above, p. 137, note 124. 


modum actus and for a just cause ; a more serious cause is re- 
quired for regular celebration (de constanti celebratione) of 
this kind. 

This faculty they may subdelegate, with the consent of 
their council, to other major superiors of the same religious 
institute." 130 

This Rescript is also for Oriental superiors : 

"II, i. The aforementioned faculties pertain to Clerical Re- 
ligious Institutes of Pontifical Rite (iuris pontificii) of whatev* r 
rite, and dependent on whatever Sacred Congregation of th » 
Apostolic See." 131 

6. In regard to the Catholic Religious Superior granting permission 
to a Byzantine Rite Priest-Monk 132 to celebrate on an antimension 
outside of a sacred place, this is an innovation, for the fonts speak only 
of the Bishop granting permission since it is from his hands that one 
must receive the antimension. 133 

130 Rescript Cum Admotate, I, 4 : "Concedendi sacerdotibus subditis suis 
facultatem Missam celebrandi in domo religiosa extra locum sacrum, sed loco 
honesto et decenti, excepto cubiculo, supra petram sacram, aut, si de Orienta- 
libus agatur, supra antimension : quod concedit tantum potest per modum actus 
et iusta de causa, si vero de constanti eiusmodi celebratione agatur, causa gravior 
requiritur. Quam facultatem, de consensu sui Consilii, ceteris Superioribus Ma- 
ioribus eiusdem Religionis subdelegare possunt." ; English translation from Mc 
Manus, loc. cit. 

131 Rescript Cum Admotate, II, 1 : "Facultates, de quibus supra, respi- 
ciunt ad Religiones clericales iuris pontificii cuiuslibet ritus, e quavis sacra Con- 
gregatione Apostolocae Sedis pendentes." ; for commentary, cfr. Belluco, Fa- 
cultaes Superiorium Religiosorum, pp. 25-26; Buijs, op. cit., pp. 16-21. 

132 In the Byzantine Rite, a Priest who is a Religious is called a Priest- 
monk (Greek lepofxovaxog, Slavonic nepoMOHaxi>) whether or not he belongs to 
a Religious Institute which would ordinarily be considered as monastic. Cfr. 
Attwater, The Christian Churches of the East, vol. I, pp. 61, 222, vol. II, pp. 
210-211 ; Brunello, op. cit., p. 557 ; CICO Fonti, serie II, fascicolo X, De Mo- 
nachico Statu iuxta Disciplinam Byzantinam (Placidus De Meester), Rome : Va- 
tican Polyglot Press, 1942, pp. 24, 67, 96 ; Oriente Cattolico, Cenni storici e sta- 
tistiche, Citta del Vaticano : Sacra Congregazione per la Chiesa Orientale. iuo:. 
p. 574 ; Posposhil, op. cit., pp. 238, 240. (Nikolskij, Ustav, p. 701). 

133 Cfr. above, pp. 89 ff. However, since the consecration of an anti- 
mension remains an episcopal function, the Priest-monk receives it at least 
indirectly from the Bishop and the canonical principle involved, or at least the 
liturgical symbolism, is thus preserved. 


The Supreme Moderators and Abbots President 134 in question 
would, in the Byzantine Rite, be those of the : 

Studites (Ukrainian) 135 

Basilians of St. Josaphat (Ukrainian) 136 

Basilians of the Most Holy Saviour (Melkite Salvatorians) 137 
Basilians of St. John the Baptist (Melkite Shuwairites) 138 
Basilians of Aleppo (Melkite Aleppines) 139 
and also the Abbot (Hegumenos) of an independent Monastery. 140 

Latin Rite Supreme Moderators as noted, have the same power in 
reference to their Oriental subjects. The same will hold for the other 
Major Superiors (e.g. Provincials, Protohegumenos and those who have 
the same type of power) 141 of Oriental Religious Institutes, and of Latin 
Religious Institutes having branches or members in the Byzantine Rite 
(e.g. Order of Friars Minor ; Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer ; 
Society of Jesus), 142 if the Supreme Moderator, with the consent of his 
Council (Synaxis), has so subdelegated these Superiors. 

Thus, with permission from the competent Superior, the Byzantine 
Priest-Monk may celebrate outside of the church or chapel and even 
sub dio (in the open air) but within the walls of the monastery 143 or in 

134 Cfr. CICO, Postquam Apostolicis, canon 312-314 ; Posposhil, op. ext., 
pp. 244 ; Belluco, Facilitates Superiorum Religiosorum, pp. 24-31 ; Buijs, op. 
cit., pp. 15-16. 

135 Attwater, op. cit., I, pp. 83-84, 211-212, Oriente Cattolico, op. cit., 
PP- 579-584- 

136 Attwater, op. cit., I, pp. 83-84, 209-210 ; Oriente Cattolico, op. cit., 
pp. 584-585- 

is? Attwater, op. cit., I, pp. 6o-6i, 209-210 ; Fortescue, op. cit., pp. 205- 
208, 228-229 ; Oriente Cattolico, op. cit., pp. 595-599. 

138 Attwater, loc. cit. ; Fortescue, loc. cit. ; Oriente Cattolico, pp. 599-603. 
189 Attwater, loc. cit. ; Fortescue, loc. cit., pp. 603-604. 

140 CICO, loc. cit., BuijS, op. cit., pp. 17-18 ; Posposhil, pp. 243-245. 

141 Cfr. CICO, Postquam Apostolicis, can. 5, i° ; Belluco, op. cit., pp. 30- 
31, 64 ; Buijs, op. cit., pp. 16-21, 32, 44. 

142 Oriente Cattolico, op. cit., pp. 625-709 ; Posposhil, op. cit., p. 235. 
The superior may be of the Latin or of one of the Oriental Rites, the subject, 
however, must be a priest of the Byzantine Rite ; a bi-ritual subject may use the 
antimension only when celebrating in the Byzantine Rite. Cfr. Ambrose Duffy, 
The Use of the Portable Altar Extra Loca Sacra, Rome : Angelicum, 1966, p. 47. 

143 Cfr. Belluco, op. cit., pp. 61-63. 

I 4 I 

the adjoining garden, 144 or in a house of Nuns or female Religious if 
these are subject to the Superior of the Priest-Monk, 145 but always on 
the Byzantine antimension and not on a Latin antimensium. 146 To ce- 
lebrate using an antimension as a portable altar extra locum sacrum in 
any other case, the Byzantine Priest-Monk must have permission from 
the Bishop. 147 

7. Our conclusions at this point are : 

1) all Byzantine Rite Bishops enjoy the Privilege of the Portable 
Altar using the antimension ; 

2) a Priest of the Byzantine Rite does not enjoy this faculty unless 
he obtains it by special permission ; 

3) triis permission may be given to diocesan and religious Priests 
of the Byzantine Rite by their local Bishop and may be used in any 
place, even outside of the diocese of the Bishop who granted this per- 
mission ; 

4) this permission may be given to religious Priests of the Catholic 
Byzantine Rite by the Supreme Moderator of their Religious Institute 
and by the Major Superiors to whom this power has been sub-delegated, 
but it may be used only within the religious houses under the jurisdic- 
tion of these superiors ; 

5) in regard to the manner of the conferral of this privilege, the 
grant is implied in the fact that the Bishop or Religious Superior gives 
the priest an antimension for his personal use. 

C. The Antimension and Persons Not in Major Sacred Orders 

Because of the respect due, according to the Byzantine mystique, 
to a consecrated object so intimately connected with the celebration of 
the Divine Liturgy, and because of the possibility (often verified) oi 
particles of the Sacred Eucharist remaining within the folded antimen- 
sion, the antimension should not be handled by, nor left in the care of, 
the laity and clerics of hierarchical grade inferior to the diaconate. 

144 Cfr. Buijs, op. cit., p. 42. 
146 Ibidem. 

146 Ibidem. Cfr. also Belluco, op. cit., p. 62 ; Duffy, loc. cit. 

147 Cfr. Belluco, op. cit., p. 63. 

I 4 2 

St. Symeon of Thessalonica states in this regard : 

"They (antimensia) must not be left in any home, nor may 
they be touched by the laity, for this is neither fitting nor ne- 
cessary. They are meant for the celebration of the Holy Myste- 
ries and therefore pertain to the priests, without whom there 
canbe no such celebration/' 148 

Ferrari explains the practical reasons, after deriving the antimen- 
sion from the cloth used by the early christians upon which to celebrate 
the Holy Sacrifice : 

"It is easy to visualize the greatest reverence with which 
this cloth became surrounded, not only because it had imme- 
diate contact with the Eucharistic Bread, but also because 
there often remained on it small fragments (of the Eucharist). 
This explains the reason for the red silk cloth (eileton) which is 
used to wrap it and the reason why the discipline of the By- 
zantine Church forbids even the minor clerics 149 to touch or 
carry the antimension. It is explicitly prescribed that this 
sacred cloth, even when placed in a burse, be carried by a Priest 
or Deacon." 150 

We have seen above, 151 that Bulgakov also notes that only a 
Priest or Deacon may carry an antimension, even when it is protected 
by the elaborate carrying case which he describes as prescribed in the 
Russian Orthodox Church. 

*« P.G. 155 : 333- 

149 Minor clerics include Subdeacons (Hypodeacons) in the Byzantine Rite. 
Cfr. Placidus De Meester, Studi sui Sacramenti Amministrati Secondo il Rito 
Bizantino, Rome : Edizioni Liturgiche, 1947, pp. 243-244, 249-252 ; Posposhil, 
Code of Oriental Canon Law, Law on Persons, op. cit., pp. 55-56, 306. This is 
also the tone of canon 40 of the Motu Proprio Cleri Sanctitati of Pope Pius XII, 
June 2, 1958. 

150 Ferrari, op. cit., pp. 105-106 : "£ facile immaginarsi la venerazione 
grandissima, di cui veniva circondata questo tovagliuolo, non soltanto perch6 
aveva immediato contatto con il Santo Pane, ma anche perche era facile rima- 
nessero dei piccoli frammenti. Ecco il perche della fodera di seta rossa che l'av- 
volge ed ecco perche la disciplina della Chiesa Bizantina fa divieto perfino ai 
ministri inferiori di toccare o portare rAvTifzivmov. E tassativamente prescritto 
che il S. Tovagliuolo, anche se dentro una borsa, sia trasportato dal Sacerdote o 
dal Diacono." 

161 See above p. 110, where Bulgakov, op. cit., pp. 709-710, is 


We have mentioned 152 that antimensia were often given to Em- 
perors, Generals, and important or especially deserving pious persons 
on voyage, but even in this case, these sacred objects would be in the 
care of the clerics in the entourage of these personages ; it would make 
little sense to travel with an antimension if there were no Priest to use it 
for the benefit of the lay recipient. 

Petrovskij reports concerning the Russian Orthodox Church : 

"In 1722, an Imperial Ukaz (decree) ordered the suppresion 
of all domestic oratories already existing in the families of 
important personages and the restitution of all antimensia to 
the Holy Synod." 153 

Bishop Nikodemos Milasch, 154 noting that even today in the Greek 
Church it is forbidden for laics and minor clerics including Hypodeacons 
(Subdeacons) to touch the antimension, refers this injunction to canon 21 
of the topical Council of Laodicea (380 A.D.), 155 subsequently incorpo- 
rated in the official collections 156 of the Canons of the Councils : 

"Canon XXI : Minor clerics 157 must not have any place in 
the Diaconicum 158 nor touch the sacred vessels." 159 

152 Cfr. above, pp. 127 also Petrides, EO, p. 198. 

153 Petrovskij, op. ext., col. 807. 

154 Nikodemos Milasch and Alexander Pessic, Das Kircherecht der 
Moregenlandischen Kirche (2nd ed.), Mostav : Pacher und Kisic, 1905. P- 57- 
Cfr. also Lubeck, op. ext., p. 409. 

155 The exact date is disputed, but it may be placed in the middle of the 
IV century. Cfr. Amleto Giovanni Cardinal Cicognani, Canon Law (authorized 
English version by Joseph O'Hara and Francis Brennan), Philadelphia : The 
Dolphin Press, 1934, P- I 7 6 : " Tne Council of Laodicea in Pacatian Phrygia (Asia 
Minor) 380 (the date is disputed), enacted 59 or 60 canons that have been famous 
in the history of discipline and Liturgy." ; and Pedalion (Cummings), p. 551 
which places it in the year 364. 

156 And confirmed by canon 2 of the VI Ecumenical Council (III Con- 
stantinople, 680-681), cfr. Cicognani, op. ext., p. 173 ; Pedalion (Cummings), 
pp. 294. 309, 55 1 , 561-562. 

157 Cfr. above, p. 142, note 149. 

158 The Diakonikon (Greek meaning "pertaining to the Deacon") is a 
place, analogous to the Latin Rite Sacristy, where the liturgical vestments, vessels, 
and books are kept ; however, it is actually (or should be) a division of the sanc- 
tuary (Bema). It is under the charge of the Deacon. Cfr. Attwater, A Catholic 
Dictionary, op. ext., p. 147 ; Raes, Introductio in Liturgiam Orientalem, op. cit., 
p. 36; Salaville, op. cit., pp. 111-112. Pedzlion (Cummings), pp. 562-563. 

159 Pedalion (Cummings), p. 561. 

i 4 4 

Archimandrite Placidus De Meester seems more liberal in his in- 
terpretation : 

"The Antimension may not be touched by laics without ne- 
cessity or utility. 160 For this reason, the Priest must not leave 
it in private dwellings, but must conserve it at his own home 
and under his own custody." 161 

We may therefore conclude that in order to avoid exaggerations, 
and especially with modern theological and liturgical currents of thought 
against excessive sacralization 162 that when it is necessary or useful, 
trustworthy minor clerics and laics may, with due precautions (such as 
a careful examination of the antimension to ascertain that it contains no 
particles of the Sacred Eucharist, and that is be suitably wrapped in its 
eileton and placed in a fitting container), be charged with the transpor- 
tation of antimensia or with the custody of the same. We may note 
here that antimensia are often sent by the Sacred Congregation for the 
Oriental Churches and by Bishops by registered mail to places where 
they are needed and are therefore handled (in their containers) by the 
ordinary postal officials. 

160 Italics are my own. 

161 De Meester, op. ext., pp. 163-164. 

162 Cfr. Abbot Primas Most Rev. Rembert G. Weakland, o.s.b., "Worship 
in a Secular World", IDO-C (International Documentation on the Conciliar 
Church, Via S. Maria dell'Anima, 30, Rome), February 20, 1968, no. 68-11. 



ii - J. M. Izzo - The Aniimension 



Unfortunately, the use of the Greek Antimension (sometimes re- 
ferred to improperly in documents as the "Greek Corporal" 1 and even 
"a veil containing some relics" 2 ) by Priests of the Latin Rite has a long 
and unhappy history which culminated in the inclusion in Pian-Benedic- 
tan Code of Canon Law a clause in Canon 823, paragraph 2 forbidding 
this inter-ritual use : 

'Tf there is no altar of his own Rite, a Priest may celebrate 
on a consecrated altar of another Catholic Rite, following his 
own Rite in the celebration of Holy Mass, but, however, not 
on the Byzantine antimension." 3 

Thus, a Byzantine Rite Catholic Priest may, in a Latin Rite Church 
celebrate on an altar that is composed of a fixed table with a portable 
altar stone in the center, 4 but a Latin Rite Priest may not celebrate the 

1 Cfr. James Godley, Time and Place for the Celebration of Mass, Wa- 
shington, D.C. : The Catholic University Press (Canon Law Studies no. 275), 
1948, p. 172 ; Joseph Arthur Henry, The Mass and Holy Communion : Inter- 
ritual Law, Washington, D.C. : The Catholic University of America Press (Ca- 
non Law Studies no. 235), 1946, p. 72. This name is connected, no doubt, with 
the slight superficial similarity to the Roman corporal, or more likely to the use 
of the antimension as a corporal ; cfr. above, pp. 1 10-124. 

2 Cfr. Thomas J. Welsh, The Use of the Portable Altar, Washington, 
D.C. : The Catholic University of America Press, (Canon Law Studies no. 305), 
1950, P- 94- Also below, pp. I75- J 79- 

3 Can. 823, § 2. Deficiente altari proprii ritus, sacerdoti fas est ritu pro- 
prio celebrare in altare consecrato alius ritus catholici, non autem super Grae- 
corum antimensis. 

4 "Altare ad modum fixum" ; cfr. Bliley, op. cit., p. 13 ; it is called a 
"stable altar" by J. B. O'Connell, Church Building and Furnishing, the Church's 


Latin Mass in a Byzantine Rite Catholic church which uses the same 
arrangement of fixed table but with the antimension instead of portable 
altar stone ; it is natural that the Byzantines take offence and feel that, 
notwithstanding all the declarations of the Holy See that all Rites in 
the Catholic Church are equal, 5 an ancient and venerable institution of 
theirs, namely the antimension, has been slighted and considered inferior 
to its cognate (the petra sacra) in the Latin Rite. 6 A cursory glance into 
the history of Canon 823, paragraph 2 will help to clarify matters so- 

Way, London : Burs & Oates (Cardinal Books), 1955, pp. 146-147 and above, 
p. 14, n. 4 ; below p. 154. 

5 Cfr. Pope Benedict XIV, Etsi Pastoralis, CIC Fontes, I, n. 328, pp. 
734-735 ; II Vatican Council, Decree on the Catholic Churches of the Eastern Rite, 
(Orientalium Ecclesiarum) , nn. 3, 5, 6. Pope Benedict XV said : "The Church 
of Jesus Christ is neither Latin nor Greek nor Slav but Catholic ; accordingly 
she makes no difference between her children, and Greeks, Latins, Slavs, and 
members of all other nations are equal in the eyes of the Apostolic See." 

6 Thus Henry Hoffman, "De Benedicti XIV Latinisationibus in Con- 
stitutione 'Etsi Pastoralis' et 'Inter Multa'," Ephemerides Iuris Canonici, IV 
(1948), p. 21 : "Quod ad altaria, usu interrituali adhibenda, attinet, decisio fit 
in disgratiam graeci, in favorem ac praeferentiam latini ritus ; scilicet bene erit, 
si Graeci velint accipere altaria portabilia ab Episcopus latinis consecrata ; latinis 
vero sacerdotibus, rito latino in Graecorum ecclesiis celebrantibus... super anti- 
mensiis seu thronis Graecorum sacrum facere non licet ; ergo manifesta praefe- 
rentia altaris latini, restrictio offensiva hac decisione pro Graecis ostenditur. 
Nota bene expressionem 'tolerentur... antimensia' gustum alicuius mali, pro 
tempore atque aegre admittendi, donee alia solutio inveniri possit, sumptam 
turn in se turn in constitutione Etsi Pastoralis praeseferre." 



In the use of the Byzantine Rite antimension by Latin Rite priests 
before the^Code of Canon Law initiated in the pontificate of Pope St. 
Pius X and promulgated by Pope Benedict XV on May 27, 1917, we 
must distinguish, with Father Amanieu : 

"May Latin Priests celebrate the Mass on (Byzantine) anti- 
mensia ? This question poses itself in two different sets of 
circumstances, and was resolved in (two) diverse manners." 1 

That is, the Byzantine Rite antimension as used by Priests of the 
Latin Rite in a) Latin Rite territories, and b) Byzantine Rite territories. 

I. In Latin Rite Territories 

In Italy, the provinces of what are now called Calabria and Apulia, 
together with Sicily, and thus almost all of southern Italy, are known 
historically, because of the Hellenic colonies and influence there, dating 
back several centuries before the Christian Era, as Magna Graecia. - 
The inhabitants of these parts, especially those of the Byzantine Rite, 

1 Amanieu, op. cit., col. 587 : "Les pretres latins peuvent-ils celebrer la 
messe sur les antimenses ? La question se posa en raison de deux circonstances 
diflterentes, et fut resolue de diverses manieres." 

2 Cfr. Attwater, op. cit., I, pp. 65-67 ; Borgia, op. cit., passim ; Adrian 
Fortescue, The Uniate Eastern Churches : The Byzantine Rite in Italy, Sicily, 
Syria and Egypt, New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., 1923. pp. 47- 
183 ; Oriente Cattolico {Cenni Storici e Statistiche) , (III ed.) Rome (Vatican) : 
Sacred Congregation for the Oriental Churches, 1962, pp. 225-231. 5-4 579 
Sciambra, op. cit., passim. 

J 5o 

are called "Italo-Greeks", "Italo- Albanians", or more accurately "Italo- 
Greek- Albanians." 3 Of these, Father Adrian Fortescue says : 

"The name Italo-Greek (Italo-Graecus) is a convenient one 
now commonly used for the inhabitants of Italy or its islands 
(Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica), who use the Byzantine Rite in Greek. 4 
It denotes, therefore, a liturgical distinction, not one of race. 
As a matter of fact, the Italo-Greeks consist of three different 
races. There are the original Greek-speaking inhabitants of 
Lower Italy and Sicily. These had nearly become latinized by 
the fifteenth century, when their rite was much fortified, almost, 
one might say, revived, by an immigration of Albanians. Lastly, 
there are later immigrations and colonies of Levantines in 
these parts, though many of these people are Orthodox, and 
so do not enter into our scheme. " 5 

To recapitulate the history of the Italo-Greek-Albanians in the 
summary fashion germane to a work of the present scope, we may say 
that there were Christian communities in these parts from at least the 
second century A.D., although some communities consider themselves 
as apostolic foundations, 6 and that Roman and Byzantine usages existed 
side by side, the ecclesiastical jurisdiction being that of Rome. In the 
VIII century, the Iconoclast Emperor Leo III the Isaurian (Emperor 
717-741), began to subject by force these territories to the hegemony 
of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and metropolitan sees were erected 
at Naples, Syracuse, and elsewhere. In regard to the attitude of the Holy 
See to this matter, Mr. Donald Attwater says : 

"To avoid disputes the popes accepted the situation. But 
the conquest by the Normans of southern Italy, begun in 1017, 
and then of Sicily (at that time in Saracen hands), removed 
the possibility of these Greek churches following Constantinople 
into schism 7 and they came again under the immediate juris- 
diction of the pope, as they have ever since remained." 8 

2. With Norman influence, latinization became rampant, whole 
eparchies (dioceses) being suppressed, parishes turned Latin, and mo- 
nasteries became decadent due to lack of Greek Rite trained personnel. 9 

3 Cfr. Attwater, op. cit., I, p. 65. 

4 Fortescue wrote in 1923 ; since that time the vernacular (Albanian and 
Italian) has been coming into use. 

5 Fortescue, op. cit., p. 47. 

6 Cfr. Acts 28 : 11-14. 

8 Attwater, op. cit., I, pp. 65-66. 


3. After the fall of Constantinople to the Turks in 1453, the suc- 
cessive subjection of the Balkans, Greece, and Albania to the Turkish 
yoke caused a great influx of Byzantine Rite refugees to settle in southern 
Italy and Sicily. It is at this point that the problem of the Byzantine 
Rite antimension being used by the Latin Rite clergy begins to make 
itself felt. 

The main difficulty seems to have been that some of these Greek 
Rite settlers were judged by the local Latin Rite ecclesiastical authorities, 
sometimes justly and sometimes unjustly, as being of "schismatic 
tendencies". We would do well to remember the remark of Attwater : 

"From before 1600 the Byzantines were subject to the local 
(Latin Rite) Ordinaries, who encouraged them (to put it mildly) 
to join the Latin Rite... To the average Western Bishop of 
those days, Eastern subjects were a nuisance, and at least 
suspect of heresy all the time. That Orientals have as much 
right to their "peculiarities" as Latins have to theirs did not 
occur to them : the popes, indeed, seem to have been the only 
ones who never lost sight of this." 10 

Nevertheless, it remains true that some of these Byzantine refugees 
having accepted the jurisdiction of the Pope of Rome under the duress 
of otherwise being refused asylum, still cast longing glances in the direc- 
tion of the Patriarch of Constantinople. 11 They sometimes hedged about 
making a formal profession of faith in the terms set down by Rome, 
refused to accept the Chrism consecrated by Latin Ordinaries 12 obtaining 
their own from Bishops in the East not in formal union with Rome, 

9 It is difficult to ascertain exactly how much of the Greek Rite remained 
after the Normans and before the new influx of immigration. 

10 Ibidem. 

11 Cfr. Fortescue, op. cit., p. 137, where he remarks concerning the Greeks 
in Venice : "It is not difficult to understand this. The colony (of Greeks) was 
being constantly reinforced by new arrivals from the East ; these brought with 
them the ideas of their homes. Then, surrounded by the Venetian Latins, the 
exiled Greeks all the more clung to their own nationality ; of this nationality the 
Patriarch of Constantinople, whether he be a Uniate or not, is always the great 

12 Cfr. Fortescue, op. cit., p. no, perhaps this was because they preferred 
the fragrant Sacred Myron (Chrism) proper to their Rite while that of the Latins 
seemed to be plain olive oil (the balsam added to Latin Chrism at its consecration 
usually does not give the penetrating fragrance of the 50 or 60 spices of the 
Byzantine Myron). We may note in passing, for the information of our Oriental 


their clergy went to the Greek Orthodox to be ordained, etc. 13 In Fact, 
when the Risorgimento unilaterally abolished the Pope's sovereignty 
over the Papal States, etc., the majority of the Greeks who had by this 
time settled in Venice, Ancona and Naples took advantage of this op- 
portunity and broke their communion with Rome. 14 Without going into 
the questions of the ecclesiology and morality involved, we wish simply 
to point out here the real or imagined ambiguous position of some of 
the Byzantine settlers apropos their loyalty for the Apostolic See of 
Rome and their actual practices in this regard. 

We have seen above 15 that the antimension is considered as a 
kind of celebret and participation in the apostolic succession of the Bish- 
op who consecrated it ; to use it is a type of Communicatio in Sacris. 
Father Cyril Korolevskij puts it succinctly, in speaking of this pro- 
blem which was to leave its traces in the Pian-Benedictan Code of 
Canon Law : 

"The Codex Juris Canonici (can. 823) forbids Priests of the 
western rites to celebrate on an antimension, while it is licit for 
any oriental Priest to celebrate on the Latin Rite portable altar 
stone (petra sacra). This prohibition is a survival from the XVI 
century, when there were many Greeks and Albanians in Italy, 
many times without fixed abode and of a Catholic faith which 
was either not secure or altogether doubtful ; celebrating on 
their antimensia was consequently considered as a communion 
in sacred things (Communicatio in Divinis) with heretics, and 
therefore forbidden." 16 

brethren, that since 1970, the Latin Church may add, as they do, other aromatic 
substances in preparing the material of the Sacred Chrism "oleo et aromatibus, 
seu materia odifera". Cfr. Ordo Benedicendi Oleum Catechumenorum et Infirmo- 
rum et Conficiendi Chrisma, promulgated by the S. Congregation for Divine 
Worship, December 3, 1970. Cfr. above, p. 66, note 47. 

13 Cfr. Fortescue, op. cit., pp. 110, 120, 177, passim. 

14 Ibidem, pp. 135-145. 

15 p. 58. 

16 Korolevskij, EI, op. cit., p. 498 : "II Codex Juris Canonici (can. 823) 
vieta ai sacerdoti dei riti occidentali di celebrare sull'antimensio, mentre invece 
e lecito a qualsiasi sacerdote orientale di celebrare sulla pietra sacra dei Latini. 
Questo divieto h una sopravvivenza del sec. XVI, quando si trovavano in Italia 
numerosi Greci o Albanesi, spesse volte senza dimora fissa e di fede cattolica non 
sicura o del tutto dubbia ; la celebrazione su loro antimensi era pertanto consi- 
derata come una communione nelle cose sacre {communicatio in divinis) con ere- 
tici, e percio proibita." 


There were antimensia in circulation in southern Italy which had 
been consecrated by Bishops pertaining to the jurisdiction of the Pa- 
triarch of Constantinople and therefore not in official communion with 
the Pope of Rome. 17 It was not long before the Roman Pontiffs took cogni- 
zance of this situation, since it was an important matter, in the documents 
which they issued concerning their Byzantine Rite subjects in Italy. 

4. The first official Papal document which mentions the antimension 
seems to be that of Pope Clement VIII (Ippolito Aldobrandini - reigned 
1592-1605) who on August 31, 1595 issued the Instruction Sanctissimus, 
in which he says : 

"If the Greeks wish to accept portable altars consecrated 
by Latin Bishops, it would be well ; if they do not wish to do 
so, their Thrones' 18 may be tolerated as well as their custom 19 
of placing these Thrones' upon (consecrated) stone altars when 
they celebrate. They should use Corporals 20 like the Latins, 
unless they use their Thrones' also as Corporals. " 21 

5. The next time that we hear of this specific canonical problem is 
more than a century later in the Constitution Etsi Pastoralis, promulgated 
May 26, 1742, by the great canonist-Pope Benedict XIV (Prospero 
Lambertini, reigned 1740-1758) who, without citing his source, uses 
almost verbatim the words of Pope Clement VIII, while adding some 
new directives : 

"XVII. If the Greeks wish to accept portable altars con- 
secrated by Latin Bishops, it would be well ; if they do not 
wish to do so, the placing of their antimensia, 22 or thrones, 
on stone altars when they celebrate, may be tolerated. 

17 Cfr. Sciambra, op. cit., pp. 97-98. 

18 Cfr. above, pp. 24-25, 39, 126. 

19 Which seems to have scandalized the Latins at the Council of Florence 
(1439-1445) when the Greeks used their antimensia on the Latin consecrated 
altars. Cfr. S. Syropoulos, vera Historia Unionis Non Vera (ed. Greyghton), 
pars XI, cap. 4, p. 318 ; and Gill, Council of Florence, p. 82. 

20 For antimension used as Corporal, cfr. above, pp. 1 10-124. 

21 Directed to the Italo-Greek-Albanians ; CIC Fontes, I, no. 17Q, 2, 
p. 344 : "Si Graeci velint accipere altaria portatilia ab Episcopis Latinis con- 
secrata, bene erit ; sin minus, tolerentur eorum throni, sive throni super Altaria 
lapidea ponendi cum celebrant. Corporalia uti Latini habeant, nisi thronis etiam 
pro corporalibus utantur." 

22 This use of the word antimensia, a minor change from the text of Cle- 
ment VIII, seems to be the first instance in a Papal document. 


XVIII. They should use Corporals like the Latins, unless 
they use their thrones also as Corporals. 

XIX. It is not lawful for a Latin Priest celebrating in the 
Latin Rite in churches of the Greek Catholics, if he lacks his own 
portable altar stone, to celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass on 
the antimensia, or thrones, of the Greeks. 

XX. Every Priest must celebrate with a chalice of gold, or 
only silver or at least tin (pewter ?), using a Throne or Cor- 
poral of linen, 23 white and clean, and an altar covered with 
clean altar-cloths or with decently prepared ornamental covr- 
ing." 24 

Thus, it is in the Constitution of Benedict XIV that we find the 
first prohibition emanating from a Roman Pontiff and therefore con- 
stituting Canon Law for those whom it concerns, 25 for Latin Priests to 
celebrate in Byzantine Rite churches using the Byzantine antimension. 
The question here is of unconsecrated fixed altars, or rather "stable 
altars" ("quasi-fixed"), 26 i.e. tables or altar-like structures of wood, 
masonry, or stone, which are not consecrated themselves, but rather 
have, in the Latin Rite, a consecrated tablet of stone (the petra sacra, 
portable altar sone) placed upon them or in a recess let into the r surface 
of the mensa, under the altar cloths, or in the Byzantine Rite, the con- 
secrated cloth antimension furnished with relics, placed under the altar 

23 Whether or not the antimension must be of linen (cfr. above, pp. 33-37), 
or only the Corporal is problematical ; Amanieu, op. cit., col. 588 says catego- 
rically, in summarizing this Constitution of Benedict XIV : "Enfin, aucun pretre 
ne puvait celebrer sans ces antimenses ou un corporal, et l'antimense, comme 
le corporal, devait etre de lin." 

24 Directed to the Italo-Greek-Albanians ; CIC Fontes, I, no. 328, VI, 
De Sacramento Eucharistiae et Missae Sacrificio, nn. 16-20, p. 744 : 

"XVII. Si Graeci velint accipere Altaria portatilia ab Epsicopis Latinis 
consecrata, bene erit ; sin minus, tolerentur eorum antimensia, sive Throni, 
super Altaria lapidea ponendi, cum celebrant. 

"XIX. Latinis Presbyteris Latino ritu in Graecorum Catholicorum Ec- 
clesiis celebrantibus, si careant proprio Altari portatili lapideo, super Antimensiis, 
seu Thronis Graecorum Sacrum facere non licet. 

"XX. Unusquisque Sacerdos in aureo, vel argenteo solum, aut saltern 
stanneo Calice sacrificet, habens Thronos, seu Corporale de lino, candidum, et 
nitidum, et Altare mundis vestimentis opertum, vel decenti paratu ornatum." 

25 Cfr. Amleto Giovanni Cardinal Cicognani, Canon Law (authorized 
English version by Joseph O'Hara and Francis Brennan), Philadelphia : The 
Dolphin Press, 1934, P- 735- 

26 Cfr. above, p. 104, n. 4, p. 148, n. 4. 


cloths or on top of the altar cloths. 27 This prohibition, as we will see, 
was repeated for the Italo-Greek-Albanian parts of southern Italy (even 
though wide particular concessions were made for the Byzantine-Slavonic 
Rite territories in what is now Poland and the U.S.S.R. in the Consti- 
tution Imposito Nobis (March 29, 175 1) and in the Encyclical Letter 
Allatae Sunt (July 26, 1755) of the same Roman Pontiff Benedict XIV, 27a 
and became the basis for Canon 823, § 2 of the Pian-Benedictan Code of 
Canon Law. 28 The Supreme Pontiff explains the reasons for this le- 
gislation in his Constitution Imposito Nobis, which is almost entirely 
concerned with the inter-ritual use of the Byzantine antimension and 
Latin portable altar stone : 

"5. It was never the mind of the Latin Church that the 
rites of the Greeks be destroyed but rather instead that they 
should always be preserved insofar as is possible, and their ob- 
servance was urged upon the Greek Faithful ; Never was the 
celebration of Mass by the Greek Catholics upon their antimensia 
disapproved, but rather was this practice expressly declared as 
permitted, and this not only in the Orient 29 but also among 
the Italo-Greeks, as may be seen both from the Instruction 30 
edited by our Predecessor of happy memory, Pope Clement VIII, 
as well as Our own Constitution Etsi Pastor alis..." . 

"6. However, in those regions where the Italo-Greeks now are, 
Latins also frequently live and in the same locale there are 
churches of both Rites so that, without any difficulty, and with- 
out serious inconvenience, Priests of each Rite can use their 
own churches. Thus there is no plausible reason for permitting 
Latin Priests in these parts to celebrate Mass, contrary to the 
constant discipline of the Latin Church, 31 without consecrated 

27 Cfr. above, pp. 116 ff. 
27 * Cfr. below, pp. 158 ff. 

28 Cfr. footnote 4 of Can. 823, 2. Together with a Response from the Holy 
Office of June 7, 1726, CIC Fontes, IV, no. 786, p. 65 (or Collectanea S. Congre- 
gationis de Propaganda Fide, Rome : Tipografia Poliglotta Vaticana, 1893, no. 
827, p. 306) : "S.C.S. Officii, 7 iunii 1726 - Se sia lecito ai sacerdoti latini di ce- 
lebrare secondo il loro rito, ma senza l'altare portatile di pietra nelle chiese ed 
altari dei greci uniti, che sono di tela consagrata (sic) dal vescovo greco con 11 n- 
zioni e con reliquie, mentre dai greci si celebra liberamente nelle chiese ed altari 
di pietra dei latini. R. Non licere." 

29 I.e. in Byzantine territories outside of Italy and Sicily. 

30 Instruction Sanctissimus cited above, p. 153. 

31 This remains problematical because from time immemoral, the Popes of 
Rome have celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass upon a wooden altar, the High 


stone altar tablets using instead the antimensia of the Greeks ; 
We forbade this practice in our above-cited Constitution, 6, 
no. 19." 32 

Pope Benedict XIV goes on to explain that this situation apropos 
the use of the antimension by Latin Priests is not verified where Latins 
live in predominantly Byzantine territories, and under this entirely dif- 
ferent set of circumstances, the problem of the antimension was resolved 
in an altogether different manner. But this belongs to the material of 
our next section. 

II. In Byzantine Rite Territories 

The lands figuring in the history of the problem of the anti- 
mension in territories of the Byzantine Rite were mostly in Eastern 
Europe and what is now the U.S.S.R., amongst Poles, Ukrainians, Byelo- 
russions, 33 and Russians (and even Slovaks and Hungarians), all of 
whom were grouped indifferently by the Latin ecclesiastical documents 
of the time under the name "Ruthenians" (Latin Ruteni or Rutheni). 34 

or Papal Altar of the Patriarchal Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, "Mater et 
Caput Omnium Ecclesiarum" ; this altar is a wooden table supposedly dating 
from the time of St. Peter but nevertheless very ancient. At present, it is en- 
cased in marble but the wooden upper surface has been left exposed as well as 
part of the front, and the Pope celebrates directly upon (using the customary 
altar cloths and corporal, naturally) this wooden table top. Cfr. photograph in 
Appendix II, p. 314. 

32 CIC Fontes, II, no. 410, §§ 5 & 6 : 

" 5. Quum vero numquam Ecclesiae Latinae mens fuerit, ut Graecorum 
Ritus destrueret, quin potius eorum semper conservationis, quantum fas esset, 
nec non eorumdem apud Graecos Fideles observantiae prosperexit ; numquam 
proinde Missarum celebrationem, quae super huiusmodi Antimensiis a Graecis 
Catholicis fit, improbabit ; sed earn, et quidem non in partibus Orientis dumtaxat, 
verum etiam inter Italo-Graecos, permitti expresse declaravit ; ut videre licet 
turn in Institutione (sic) per fel. rec. Praedecessorem nostrum Clementem Pa- 
pain VIII edita, turn in nostra Constitutione, quae incipit : Etsi Pastoralis, Bul- 
lari nostri torn. I, Constit. 57, § 6, num. 17. 

"6. Quum vero in iis Regionibus, in quibus Italo-Graeci sunt, Latini quo- 
que frequentes habitent, atque ibidem tarn unius, quam alterius Ritus Ecclesiae 
adsint, ita ut absque ullo impedimento, et sine grave incommodo unusquisque 
Presbyter proprii Ritus Ecclesiam adire valeat ; nulla sane causa est, ob quam 
Latinis earum partium Presbyteris permitti debeat, contra constantem Ecclesiae 
Latinae disciplinam, sine Sacrata Altaris Lapidea Tabula Missas celebrare, easque 


1. There had been a constant interest of Latin Rite missionaries 
in these parts working for the restoration of official communion with the 
Roman See among the Byzantine Orthodox and serving the Latin Rite 
communities of faithful. With the "Union of Brest-Litovsk" (Lituania), 
the Metropolitanate of Kiev and five eparchies (dioeceses) entered into 
official communion with the Apostolic See of Rome, and successive 
acts of union brought considerable numbers of Byzantine-slavonic Rite 
clergy and faithful into the jurisdiction of the Roman Church. The fact 
of having Latin Rite priests and especially missionaries living in pre- 
dominantly Byzantine Rite ambients brought up anew, albeit with the 
interritual situation reversed (i.e. a minority of Latins among a majority 
of Byzantines, instead of vice-versa as among the Italo-Greek- Albanians), 
the problem of the Byzantine antimension as used by Latin Rite Priests 
for the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. 

2. Pope Benedict XIV reviews this situation 35 in his above- 
mentioned Constitution of March 29, 1751, Imposito Nobis, and notes the 
difficulties encountered by Latin Priests in transporting or importing 
Latin altar stones and the danger of breakage of the same ; if they adhere 
strictly to the current discipline of the Latin Church regarding the pro- 
hibition to celebrate on the Byzantine antimension, they will either have 
to go long periods without celebrating Holy Mass or be constrained not 
to leave those territories where they can easily find churches of the Latin 
Rite, and in the latter case there will be communities of Latin Rite faithful 
distant from churches of their own rite who will lack the Sacraments 
of the Latin Rite for periods of long duration, even years. The Pontiff 
has heard of pious Latin Rite Priests who in these circumstances have not 
hesitated to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on Byzantine anti- 
mensia. To ease the consciences of all involved, and to further the cause 

super Graecorum Antimensis offerre ; quod ipsis proinde in citata nostra Con- 
stitutione vetitum fuit, eadem § 6, nom. 19." 

33 The inhabitants of Bjelorussia, sometimes called "White Russians"; 
this terminology has become ambiguous because of political connotations : those 
Russians who oppose the Bolsheviks are sometimes called "White Russians" in 
opposition to the "Red Russians" (Bolsheviks). 

34 For this term and the ecclesiastical history of these peoples, who were 
at various time subject to diverse political hegemonies, cfr. Amman, op. cit., 
passim; Attwater, op. cit., I, pp. 72-101, 120-125, II, pp. 45-80 ; Oriente Cat- 
tolico, op. cit., pp. 289-357. 

35 CIC Fontes, II, No. 409, §§ 1-8, pp. 307-308. 


of union by showing the value of the Greek Rite antimensia and by 
encouraging the inter-ritual use of both these antimensia and Latin 
portable altar stones, Pope Benedict XIV, having taken counsel with 
various officials of the Roman Dicasteria, and having taken note of a 
similar concession of Pope Clement VIII, 36 solemnly decrees that, not- 
withstanding any other contrary laws or ordinances, all Latin Rite mis- 
sionaries and other Priests now or in the future living for some time in 
"Polish Russia" may celebrate the Latin Mass in Ruthenian Catholic 
churches of the Byzantine Rite using their antimensia, if these Latin 
Priests do not have Latin altar stones available. They are bound always 
to celebrate according to the Latin Rite, however, and the prohibitions 
enjoined by Pope Clement VIII and Pope Benedict XIV in their former 
decrees 37 concerning the use of antimensia by Latin Priests among the 
Italo-Greek-Albanians remain in full force. 38 

3. On July 26, 1755, Pope Benedict XIV addressed an Encyclical 
Letter, Allatae Sunt, to Latin Rite Priests sent to the East, in which he 
reiterates his legislation of Impositio Nobis, noting the difficulties this 
time in "White Russia" (Bjelorussia), allowing Latin Rite Priests to 

36 A request by the Bishop of Vilna to the Holy Office and approved by 
Clement VIII in 1652, granting inter-ritual use, in case of necessity, or even by 
reason of devotion, between the Latins and the Ruthenians in communion with 
Rome, in regard to altars (antimensia are not specifically mentioned), chalices, 
and vestments as long as no scandal (?) arises and with permission of the com- 
petent ecclesiastical Superiors and the Rectors of the respective churches in- 
volved. The text is quoted in full in § 7, p. 310, of Imposito Nobis. 

37 Instruction Sanctissimus and Constitution Imposito Nobis. 

38 CIC Fontes, II, no. 409, 8, p. 310 : "8. Nos igitur, praemissae necessi- 
tatis intuitu, atque etiam huiusmodi Decreti consideratione adducti, praesentium 
litterarum tenore, atque ex certa scientia, et Apostolicae auctoritatis plenitudine, 
salvis praefati Clementis VIII, nostrisque super Ritibus Italo-Gaecorum editis 
Constitutionibus, et Ordinationibus, non modo relatum superius Decretum ap- 
probamus, et confirmamus ; verum etiam praefatis omnibus Missionariis, aliisque 
Sacerdotibus Latinis in tota Russia Polonica nunc et pro tempore commemo- 
rantibus, ut ipsi, et eorum quilibet, in Ecclesiis Ruthenorum Unitorum, defi- 
cientibus Lapideis Altarium Tabulis rite consecratis, super Sacris eorundem 
Ruthenorum Antimensiis Missarum Sacrificia celebrare, atque etiam, ut supra 
dictum est, in huiusmodi celebratione eorundem Calicibus stanneis uti libere, et 
licite possint, et valeant, concedimus, et indulgemus. Non obstantibus quibusvis 
Apostolicis, seu Generalium, aut Provincialarum, vel Synodalium Conciliorum 
contrariis Constitutionibus, et Ordinationibus, sive Locorum, Personarum, aut 
Ordinum Statutis, Ritibus, Usibus, et Consuetudinibus etiam immemorabilibus, 
caeterisque in contrarium facientibus quibuscumque." 


celebrate in Ruthenian churches lacking consecrated fixed altars upon 
Byzantine Antimensia. 39 

In regard to these Papal documents, Father Amanieu says : 

"These are the only general concession which were accorded 
(to Latin Rite Priests) to celebrate on Byzantine antimensia. 
In other cases and in different territories from these, the Latin 
Priest may not celebrate upon those antimensia which take the 
place of consecrated altar stones." 40 

39 CIC Fontes, II, no. 434, 37, pp. 471-472 : "536. Haec ad Graecos per- 
tinent, qui celebraturi in Latinas Ecclesias recipiuntur. Verum, ut eo clarius 
ostendatur, nullam exinde sequi Ritus permixtionem ab Ecclesiae Legibus pro- 
scriptam, non abs re erit verba facere de Latinis quoque, qui ad Sacrificium 
Missae offerendum, et Divina Officia persolvenda in Graecorum Ecclesiis, ex 
iusta aliqua causa admittuntur. Quod quidem non modo propositam sententiam 
confirmabit, sed etiam plurimum conferet ad demonstrandum, quam necessaria 
sit mutua inter Catholicos, licet diversi Ritus, animorum coniunctio ac benevo- 
lentia. In Russia Alba Rutheni Catholici, quos Unitos vocant, plures habent 
Ecclesiae, paucas vero Latini, et quod magis est, longe dissitas a pagis Latino- 
rum qui inter Ruthenos versantur. Latini quandoque diutius Sacrificio Latinae 
Missae carebant, eo quod suis negotiis detenti, nequibant tarn longum inter 
aggredi, ut ad Latinas Ecclesias se conferrent. Neque Latini Presbyteri facile 
poterant ad paucas illas Latinorum Ecclesias, quae in Russia Alba reperiuntur, 
accedere, ut Missam celebrarent, propterea quod Ecclesiae ipsae ab illorum 
domicilio nimis longo intervallo seiungerentur. Itaque, ne Latini Missa Latino 
Ritu celebrata tamdiu carerent, unum illud supererat, ut Latini Sacerdotes, in 
Latinorum commodum, Latinas Missas in Ruthenis Ecclesiis celebrarent. Verum 
hac ipsa in re, ea occurrebat difncultas, quod Altaria Graecorum sacro Lapide 
carent, cum ipsi celebrent super Antimensiis, quae sunt Lintea quaedam ab Epi- 
scopo consecrata, quorum angulis Sanctorum Reliquiae includuntur ; quamo- 
brem Latini Sacerdotes Lapidem secum deferre cogebantur, haud levi inter- 
cedente incommodo, ac discrimine, ne in itinere frangeretur. His omnibus in- 
commodis tandem opportunum remedium, opitulante Deo, inventum, adhibi- 
tumque fuit. Siquidem, consentientibus etiam ipsis Ruthenis, indultum fuit 
Latinis Presbyteris, ut Missam Latino Ritu celebrarent in Ruthenis Ecclesiis, et 
super illorum Antimensiis : idque eo vel expeditius visum est, quod Rutheni Sa- 
cerdotes, accedentes quandoque ad Latinas Ecclesias Missam inibi celebraturi, 
super nostris sacris Lapidibus Sacrificium conficiebant. Id omne cognosci potest 
ex Constitutione nostra : Imposito Nobis, quae quadragesima tertia est, Bullarii 
nostri, torn. III." 

40 'Amanieu, op. cit., col. 589 : "Ce sont la les seules concessions generates 
qui aient ete accordes de cel6brer sur les antimenses des grecs. Dans les autres 
cas et les pays differents, le pretre latin ne peut pas celebrer sur les antimenses 
tenant lieu de pierre sacr6e." 



I. The situation among the Latin Rite Priests living among the 
Italo-Greek-Albanians outlined above 1 together with a decree 2 from the 
Holy Office of June 7, 1726 reiterating the same prohibitions, became 
the basis for Canon 823, § 2, of the Codex Iuris Canonici, prepared in the 
pontificate of Pope S. Pius X and completed and promulgated on May 
27, 1917 by Pope Benedict XV. The canon in its entirety is : 

"Canon 823. 1. It is not lawful to celebrate Mass in churches 
belonging to heretics or schismatics, even if they had been 
properly consecrated or blessed in the past. 3 

2. If there is no altar of his own rite, a Priest may celebrate 
on a consecrated altar of another Catholic rite, following his own 
rite in the celebration of Holy Mass, but, however, not on a 
Byzantine antimension. 4 

1 pp. 149 ff. 

2 Cfr. above, p. 155, note 28 for text. 

3 Cfr. Ignatius J. Szal, The Communication of Catholics with Schismatics, 
Washington, D C. : The Catholic University of America Press (Canon Law Stu- 
dies no. 264), 1948, pp. 74-81. This legislation has been greatly modified by 
the Vatican II Conciliar Decree on the Catholic Churches of the Eastern Rite, Nov- 
ember 21, 1964, nos. 24-29, but especially no. 28 : "Further, given the same 
principles, common participation by Catholics with their Eastern separated 
brethren in sacred functions, things and places is allowed for a just cause. 
(N.C.W.C. translation) - Decretum de Ecclesiis Orientalibus Catholicis, "2S. Item, 
positis iisdem principiis, communicatio in sacris functionibus, rebus, et locis 
inter catholicos et fratres seiunctos orientales iusta de causa permittitur." Pa- 
ragraph 28 treats of extra-sacramental communicatio in sacris, i.e. sharing of 
the same altar but not intercommunion in the same celebration of the Eucharist, 
as a footnbte to the same paragraph explains. 

4 For Latin text of can. 823, § 2, cfr. above, p. 147. It is interesting to 
note that the phrase "non autem super Graecorum antimensiis" was not included 
in the text of the canon as originally proposed in 1914 ; cfr. Schema Codieis Inns 

12 - J. M. Izzo - The Antimension 


3. No one may celebrate on a Papal Altar 5 unless he has an 
Apostolic Indult (i.e. special permission from the Holy See). 

This canon was inserted in the Third Book, De Rebus (concerning 
Sacred Things), First Part, De Sacramentis (concerning the Sacrament*), 
Third Title, De Sanctissima Eucharistiae (concerning the Sacred Eucharist), 
Chapter 1, De Sacrosanctae Missae Sacrificio (The Holy Sacrifice of the 
Mass), Article 1, De Tempore et Loco Missae Celebrandae (concerning the 
time and place for the celebration of the Mass). 

2. It should be noted that even though it is not specified, this 
canon applies only to Latin Rite Priests 6 and not to Priests of other 
Oriental Rites which do not use the antimension. 7 Although the Pian- 
Benedictine Code of Canon Law is universal law for the Roman Catholic 
Church, in its first canon, 8 the Oriental Catholics were exempted from 

Canonici, Rome : Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis, 1914, Liber III De Rebus, p. 39, 
canon 98 : "1. Non licet Missam celebrari in templo haereticorum vel schismati- 
corum, etsi olim valide consecrato aut benedicto." (this is identical with the ca- 
non as finally promulgated in CIC). "2. Sacerdos potest ritu proprio celebrare 
in altare alterius ritus nisi adest altare proprii ritus." (in the actual CIC, can. 
823 : "2. Deficiente altari proprii ritus, sacerdoti fas est ritu proprio celebrare 
in altari consecrato alius ritus catholici, non autem super Graecorum antimensiis.") 
"3. In altaribus papalibus nemo celebret sine apostolico indulto." (identical 
with CIC). 

5 Cfr. Godley, op. ext., pp. 173-174 : "A papal altar is so called either be- 
cause it was consecrated by the Pope or because he said Mass on it or because 
he directly granted this special distinction to it... The main papal altars are the 
following: the principal altars of St. John Lateran, of St. Peter (Vatican), of 
St. Paul Outside the Walls, and of St. Mary Major in Rome, the High Altar of 
the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, and the altar sent to King John V (1706- 
1750) in Lisbon, Portugal." In recent years, this permission has been given more 
frequently, e.g. to Bishops who accompany a pilgrimage of their faithful to 
Rome. Cfr. motu proprio Peculiare Ius of Pope Paul VI, February 8, 1955, 
AAS 58 (1966), pp. 119-122. 

6 I.e. Bishops and Priests (unless they enjoy some special indult or pri- 
vilege) of the Roman Rite, the Ambrosian (Milanese) Rite, the Mozarabic (To- 
ledo) Rite, the Rite of Braga, Portugal, the Rite of Lyons, and the various Mo- 
nastic Rites, e.g. Dominican, Carmelite, Carthusian, Cistercian, Premonstraten- 
sian (Norbertines). 

7 I.e., Bishops and Priests of the Coptic, Ethiopian, Malankarese, Ma- 
ronite, Syrian, Armenian, Chaldean and Malabarese Rites. 

8 "Can. I. Licet in Codice iuris canonici Ecclesiae quoque Orientalis di- 
sciplina saepe referatur, ipse tamen unam respecit Latinam Ecclesiam, neque 

1 6 3 

its application except i) when they are are specifically mentioned ; or 
2) when the laws involve matters of Faith or refer to or interpret the 
natural or positive Divine Law. 9 Canon 823, 2, clearly does not speci- 
fically mention Priests of the Oriental Rites, nor does it involve matters 
of Faith or Divine Law. 10 

3. In regard to the binding force of this prohibition, it is considered 
to be grave, 11 but the present author believes that necessity or serious 
inconvenience would excuse from its observance if a Latin Rite Priest 
(e.g. a missionary) had to chose between using an antimension without 
permission, or celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass without any 
consecrated altar at all contrary to the constant tradition of the Church, 12 

Orientalem obligat, nisi de iis agatur, quae ex ipsa rei natura etiam Orientalem 
afficiunt." For a detailed exposition of this canon, cfr. Cicognani, op. cit., 
pp. 446-462. 

9 Cfr. John A. Abbo and James D. Hannan, The Sacred Canons (2 vols., 
second revised ed.), St. Louis, Mo. : B. Herder Book Co., i960, I, pp. 3-5 ; Ci- 
cognani, op. cit., p. 455. 

10 Abbo-Hannon, op. cit., I, p. 822; Cicognani, op. cit., pp. 455-462 
(where Canon 823 is not cited among the canons of the CIC which affect Orientals). 

11 Abbo-Hannon, loc. cit. ; Amanieu, op. cit., col. 589 : "Cette defense a 
toujours ete consideree comme grave, et meme de nos jours les moralistes." ; 
Felix M. Cappello, Tractatus Canonico-M oralis de Sacramentis iuxta Codicem 
Iuris Canonici (3 vols.), Torino : Marietti editori, 1921, I, no. 766, p. 627 : "Sub 
gravi prohibetur sacerdos ritus latini celebrare super antimensiis" (Graecorum) ; 
Mathaeus Conte, A. Coronata, Institutiones Iuris Canonici, De Sacramentis, 
(2nd ed.), Rome : Marietti editori, 1951, I, no. 256, p. 230. 

12 Cfr. above, pp. 30 ff. below, p. 164 (at end of note), however, we must 
digress at this point to mention an apparent exception that because of cases of 
extreme necessity the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith has 
allowed its missionaries to use broken altar stones, or ones whose relics had been 
lost, and had therefore lost, at least juridically speaking, their consecration. 
The first time this seems to have been granted was for missionaries in Tonkin, 
to whom, because their altars had been the special targets of the persecution that 
they were at that time undergoing, received this indult on May 14, 1681 (cfr. 
Collectanea S.C. de Propaganda Fide, no. 825, p. 305). The most recent time that 
it has been granted is in the 1961-197° Decennial Faculties of the same Sacred 
Congregation (Protocol Number 2150/60) : "5. Permittendi ut iusta de causa 
Missa celebrari possit, super altari portatili,... etiamsi altare sit fractum vel sine 
Reliquiis Sanctorum...". For a detailed commentary of this faculty, cfr. Igna- 
tius Ting Pong Lee, Facilitates Apostolicae S.C. De Prop. Fide et S C. Con- 
sistorialis, Roma: Commentarium pro Religiosis, 1962, pp. 120-125. Some 
authors hold that this authorizes the missionary priest to celebrate on any piece 
of stone whatever since they opine that the exsecrated portable altar stone is no 


when it is necessary to celebrate Mass. I base this opinion on two facts: 
1) Pope Benedict XIV, whose decrees Etsi Pastoralis, 13 Imposito Nobis, 1 * 

different from any other stone. Seeing in this an extreme example of the S.C. de 
Prop. Fide's eschewment of the Byzantine antimension, Manuel Ayala, Lo- 
pes, "Ara y Antimension, en torno al Derecho de la Sagrada Congregacion de 
Ritos de 12 de marzo de 1947", Revista Espanola de Derecho Canonico, IV (1949), 
p. 243, says : "La Sagrada Congregacion de Propaganda Fide, a pesar de las ven- 
tajas de indole personal que en ello pudiera haber, siempre mantuvo esta Hnea 
de conducta, denegando el uso del antimensio oriental a los misioneros latinos en 
sus correrias apostolicas, aunque hizo concesiones sobre la materia, animada de 
maternal benignidad. 

En las Facultades Generales otorgadas a los Ordinarios de Misiones, que 
recientement fueron redactad y transmitidas en 1 de enero de 1941, tenemos el 
ejemplo claro y patente. 

Entre las que conciernen a los sacramentos y a la parte ritual, existe la 
senalada con el numero 4... "Permittendi ut Missa celebrari possit in casu ne- 
cessitatis super altari portatili, etiam sine ministro, et sub dio... etiam si altare 
sit fractum vel sine reliquiis Sanctorum..." 

Cierto es que la facultad concede la dispensa, debitis cautelis adhibitis, y 
solo en caso de necesidad, en que, de lo contrario, habria que abstenerse de decir 
misa, habida cuenta que no es meramente personal, sino concedida en atenwion 
al pueblo cristiano. 

Aun acentuan mas lo extraordinario del caso algunos interpretes afirmando 
que tal concesion equivale en fin de cuestas a autorizar la celebracion sobre una 
simple piedra cualquiera. 

Porque, segun buena teoria rubriquista, el ara quebrantada perdio toda su 
signicacion liturgica y no le queda mas que un remoto recuerdo de lo que antes 
fuera, en la piadosa estimacion de los fieles." 

Xavier Paventi, "Quaestiones de lure Missionali", Ephemerides Juris 
Canonici, III (1947), p. 244 says, in the same vein : "Qua facultate permitte- 
batur tandem aliquando celebrari Missae super simplici lapide, nam altare frac- 
tum sine reliquiis Sanctorum nullo modo differt a communi lapide et quam- 
cumque significationem amisit." For the injunction of celebrating only on a 
consecrated altar, its grave obligation, and excusing causes, cfr. Duffy, op. 
ext., pp. 44-45 ; Godley, op. ext., pp. 23-27, 135-136. 

However, the new Missale Romanum ex decreto Sacrosancti Concilli Vati- 
can! II instauratum auctoritate Pauli PP. VI promulgatum, editio typica, Rome : 
Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis, 1970, obviates this whole difficulty for the Latin 
Rite by stating that "when celebrating outside a sacred place, espeally when 
done per modum actus (occasionally), the Eucharist may be celebrated upon any 
convenient table, always using altar cloths and corporal." p. 76, no. 260. It 
does not clear up the problem of habitually celebrating without a consecrated 
altar or relics. Cfr. below, pp. 225 ff. for the Latin text and further discussion 
of this problem. 

13 Cfr. above, pp. 153-154, 157-158. 

14 Cfr. above, pp. 155-158. 


and Allatae Sunt, 15 are cited in the footnotes to Canon 823, § 2, himself 
noted that in cases of necessity, or when they or their charges would have 
to go for a long time without the Latin Mass, pious Priests did not hesitate 
to use Byzantine antimensia without permission when they lacked altars 
of their own rite ; he seems to approve of their conduct as he uses it as 
a motive for his Constitution Imposito Nobis ; 16 2) as we shall see shortly, 
the Holy See has often derogated, both by means of special indults 
granted to individual Priests and Bishops, and by means of faculties 
granted to particular territories or even universal faculties, from the 
law embodied in this particular canon. 

4. However, we cannot agree with Father Victor Pospishil's opinion: 

"The prohibition of can. 823, § 2, for Latin Rite priests to 
^celebrate over an antimension of the Byzantine (Greek) Rite, is by 
contrary practice of the Holy See to be considered abolished." 17 

Father Pospishil goes on to cite the indults given to individual 
Priests and to military chaplains by the Holy See and through mem- 
bership in certain pious societies. 18 

These indults and faculties are privileges given as special permissions 
to act contrary to the general law of the Code, and as such do not abro- 
gate the law itself. 19 

15 Cfr. above, p. 155, 158. 

16 Cfr. above, p. 155, 157-158. 

17 Victor Pospishil, Inter-ritual Canon Law Problems in the United 
States and Canada, Chesapeake City, Maryland : St. Basil's (sic), 1955, pp. 75-76. 

18 E.g. "Catholic Near East Welfare Association." Cfr. below, pp. 355-357. 

19 Thus, in speaking of the Latin antimension, A. Betta, "De concessione 
antimensii missionaris latinis", Ephemerides Liturgicae, vol. 62 (second part, 
1948), p. 382, says : "The Latin antimensium is permitted in imitation of the 
Greek antimension, borrowing from it the name and even to some degree its 
use ; properly speaking, however, the antimension of the Greeks is prohibited 
and remains prohibited." "Antimentium latinum ad instar antimensii graecorum 
conceditur, nomen et aliquomodo etiam usum eius usurpans ; proprio tamen lo- 
quendo, antimensium graecorum prohibitum est et prohibitum manet." And 
in the same vein, Cosmas Sartori, Iuris Missionarii Elementa (editio altera), 
Roma : Libreria S. Antonio, 1951, p. 97 : "This linen cloth is not to be in any- 
way confused with the antimensions of the Greeks, on which a Priest of the 
Latin Rite is forbidden to celebrate (Can. 823, § 2) and which prohibition re- 
confundendum est cum Graecorum antimensiis, in quibus sacerdos ritus latini 
celebrare nequeunt (can. 823, § 2), quae prohibitio manet : ditfert enim ab iis 
forma et benedictione." Cfr. also Godley, op. cit., p. 172, and Henry, op. cit., 
where they note that the special indult granted to the Catholic Near East Wel- 
fare Association does not abrogate canon 823, § 2. 



Although the prohibition of Canon 823, § 2 for Latin Rite priests 
to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on the Byzantine antimension 
has never been revoked, dispensations from this law have been granted 
and have become less and less rare. 

The Sacred Congregation for the Oriental Churches has given 
apostolic indults to various individual Priests and Bishops 1 of the Latin 
Rite allowing them to celebrate Mass on the Byzantine antimension, 
instead of the Latin portable altar stone, not only in churches of the 
Oriental Rite but even 

1 Ting Pong Lee, op. cit., p. 139 remarks : "Nonnumquam, etsi raro, 
indultum fuit latinis sacerdotibus celebrare super Orientalia Antimensia. Re- 
centiori tempore aliqui latini ritus sacerdotis hoc privilegio iure utebantur ex 
concessione Sacrae Congregationis pro Ecclesia Orientalia 'ob praeclara merita 
erga Ecclesias Orientales' (textus Rescripti). Casus vero huiusmodi extraordi- 
nariae concessionis sporadicos esse nemo est qui ignoret ; immo eiusdem elargitio 
valde coarcta fuit sub Pio XII, etsi in praesentiarum mitior agendi ratio ob- 
servatur." " Sometimes, though rarely, an indult was granted for Latin Rite Priests 
to celebrate upon Oriental Antimensia. More recently, a Latin Rite Priest could 
obtain this privilege by a concession from the Sacred Congregation for the Oriental 
Churches 'because of outstanding efforts for the Oriental Churches' (text of the Re- 
script). That the incidence for this extraordinary concession is sporadic is well 
known ; it was even more restrincted under Pius XII, even though today a less 
strict course of action has been taken" (commenting on Faculty no. 6 of the 1961- 
1970 Decennial Faculties of the S.C.P.F.). At least to authors insinuate disap- 
proval of the fact that the Sacred Congregation for the Oriental Churches acted 
contrary to the Code of Canon Law : Ayala Lopez, op. cit., p. 244 : "La S. Con- 
gregacion pro Ecclesia Orientali exterioriza un nuevo criterio de benignidad, 
concediendo frecuentemente autorizacion a los sacerdotes latinos para celebrar 
la santa misa sobre el antimensio oriental. No es nuestro animo el formular jui- 
cios menos respetuosos aludiendo a esta disposicion, pues se trata de norma v 
conducta de un Dicasterio Romano, en materia de su propria competencia." 


"because of their special merit in regard to the Oriental Chur- 
ches, 2 the personal privilege of using, in the celebration of Mass, 
the (Byzantine) antimension, instead of the Latin portable 
altar stone, not only in churches of the Oriental Rite, but even 
outside of these, whenever there would be some inconvenience 
in using the Latin portable altar, during a voyage as long as 
they observe the Latin Rite in its integrity in all other par- 
ticulars, and place a Corporal on top of the antimension." 3 

The same faculty as granted to Latin Rite Bishops adds the clause: 

"The same faculty, by the present letters, is conceded to 
one or two Priests, who in the same circumstances accompany 
His Excellency, the Bishop N.N." 4 

The same Sacred Congregation, on January 26, 1928, granted this 
privilege to the members (and those who would in the future be enrolled) 
of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (C.N.E.W.A.), an association 
dedicated to prayer and charitable assistance in behalf of the Oriental 
Churches and the needy of the Near East ; this seems to be the first time 
that a general indult in this matter was given to a relatively large group of 

"The Sacred Congregation for the Oriental Churches shows a new criterion of be- 
nignity, conceding frequently authorization for Latin Rite Priests to celebrate Holy 
Mass on the Oriental antimension. It is not our intention to form a somewhat disre- 
spectful judgement concerning this practice, since we are treating of the norms and 
conduct of a Roman Decasterium regarding matters of its proper competency." 
And Paventi, op. cit., p. 250 : "Quoad antimensium orientale notandum est 
quod hisce temporibus ipsa S.C. pro Ecclesia Orientali non raro concedit sacer- 
dotirbus latinis facultatem celebrandi sacrum super antimensio orientali contra 
prescriptionem canonis supra citati (can. 823, 2). De hac questione nullum iudi- 
cium proferimus cum agatur de praxi introducto a competenti dicasterio ro- 
mano." "In regard to the Oriental antimension, it may be noted that at the present 
the Sacred Congregation for the Oriental Churches not rarely concedes to Latin Rite 
Priests the faculty to celebrate on the Oriental antimension contrary to the prescrip- 
tions of the above cited canon {can. 823, 2). In regard to this question we put forth 
no judgement because we are treating here of a practice introduced by a competent 
Roman Dicasterium." 

2 In just what this "special merit" consists, is not specified ; most likely- 
it is special interest in, or work or charitable assistance in behalf of Oriental 

3 Cfr. below, Appendix I, p. 300, for facsimile of indult in behalf of a 
Latin Rite priest. 

4 Cfr. below, Appendix I, p. 301, for facsimile of indult in behalf of a 
Latin Rite Bishop. 

1 69 

persons instead of to single individuals. 5 Many diocesan and religious 
Priests of the United States and Canada have enrolled themselves in the 
C.N.E.W.A. in order to avail themselves of the privilege of the portable 
altar using the Byzantine antimension. The antimension itself they have 
obtained either from the Sacred Congregation for the Oriental Churches, 
some Byzantine Rite Bishop, or from the C.N.E.W.A. 

During the Second World War (1939-1945), the Holy See granted 
to Military Chaplains the privilege of using for the celebration of Holy 
Mass, instead of the Latin Rite portable altar stone, "a veil which had 
enclosed, and well fastened, authentic relics." 6 Given the fact that the 
antimension was still a rather exotic artifact in the West, it could, with 
a sewn-on eileton or lining of red silk, 7 upon superficial examination 
seem to be a "veil" (similar to a Chalice Veil) with relics enclosed in it. 
Notice that- no mention is made of the blessing or consecration of this 
object, which seems odd, given the venerable tradition of celebrating 
only on a consecrated altar. Perhaps the idea of celebrating upon a 
portable altar which was not made of stone was so unheard of that no 
thought was given to its consecration or blessing. 

The present author traced, in the archives of the Sacred Congrega- 
tion of Rites, some correspondence which will be of interest in the present 
discussion. The late Cardinal (then Archbishop) Francis J. Spellman, 
Archbishop of the Archdiocese of New York, in his capacity of Military 
Vicar for the Armed Forces of the United States of America, requested 
for the military chaplains under his jurisdiction, for the duration of the 
war the same privilege to substitute the antimension for the Latin Rite 
portable altar stone as had been conceded by the Holy See to the military 
chaplains of Great Britain. This request was passed on to the Sacred 
Congregation for the Oriental Churches by the Apostolic Delegate of the 
United States, which Congregation in turn referred it, in a report 8 dated 
December 18, 1942, to the Secretariat of State. The Secretariat of State 
turned the matter over, in a letter 9 dated February 24, 1943, to the 
judgment of the Sacred Congregation of Rites. In this letter, it is noted 
in regard to the privilege of using the antimension instead of the portable 

5 Cfr. Godley, op. ext., p. 172 ; Henry, op. cit., p. 72. 

6 Cfr. below, p. 170. 

7 Cfr. above, p. 84 ff. The Latin Chalice Veil resembles the Byzantine Aor 

8 Sacred Congregation for the Oriental Churches, Protocol Number 1413/42. 

9 Secretariate of State of the Vatican, Protocol Number 1043/43. Cfr. 
below, Appendix I, pp. 298-299. for facsimile for original Italian. 


altar stone supposed to have been granted to the British military chaplains: 

"This last affirmation is not exact ; to the British Military 
Vicar, in fact, was granted only — as 1 had the honor to com- 
municate to Your Emminence in letter N. 7830/42 of November 
3, 1942 — the faculty to permit the military chaplains to sub- 
stitute, for the purpose of altars used in the field, instead of the 
portable altar stone, a veil having enclosed and well fastened, 
authentic Sacred Relics. I leave it to Your Eminence to judge 
whether or not it is advisable to grant the identical faculty also 
to His Excellency the Military Vicar of the Armed Forces of 
the United States, and ask to be advised of its eventual con- 

This faculty was granted on February 26, 1943 and communicated 
in a response 10 dated on the same day to Cardinal Spellman, in the 
terms of "a privilege for Military Chaplains to use for the celebration of 
Mass, instead of a portable altar stone, a veil having enclosed relics 
authenticated by a Bishop." With the clause "all other things must be 
observed which are required in the celebration of Holy Mass." 

10 Sacred Congregation of Rites, Protocol Number 2628/43 : 
"Beatissime Pater, 

R.P.D. Franciscus J. Spellman Archiepiscopus Neo Eboracensis et Ordi- 
narius Castrensis pro America Septentrionali ad pedes Sanctitatis Vestrae pro- 
volutus privilegium implorat pro cappellanis castrensibus utendi loco altaris 
portatilis in celebratione Missae, velo cum inclusis Reliquiis ab Episcopo recognitis. 

Ordinariatus Militaris Americae Septentrionalis. 

Sanctissimus Dominus Noster Pius Papa XII preces Excellentissimi Or- 
dinarii Militaris Americae Septentrionalis ab infrascripto Cardinali Sacrae Rituum 
Congregationis Praefecto relatas permanenter excipiens, benigne annuere pro 
gratia iuxta preces dignatus est, servatis de cetero servandis in celebratione 
Missae. Contrariis non obstantibus quibuscumque. 

Die 26 Februarii 1943. 

Carolus Card. Salotti 
S.R.C. Praefectus" 

"Most Holy Father, 

Most Reverend Francis J. Spellman, Archbishop of New York and Miltiary 
Ordinary for North America, prostrate at the feet of your Holiness, asks for Miliary 
Chaplains the privilege of using for the celebration of the Mass, instead of a por- 
table altar {stone) a veil containing relics authenticated by a Bishop. 

To the Military Ordinariate of North America : 

Our Most Holy Lord Pope Pius XII having heard the request of His Excel- 
lency the Military Ordinary of North America which was related to him by the 
undersigned Cardinal Prefect of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, graciously deigns 


Father Thomas J. Welsh, commenting on this privilege, in his 
book The Use of the Portable Altar, says : 

"Many chaplains availed themselves of this privilege by 
using a Greek antimensium. This practice is certainly within 
the limits of the faculty, and indeed reflects the most practical 
solution, but if any bishop would authenticate some relics and 
these would be safely inserted in a veil, a chaplain could cer- 
tainly say Mass on such a veil. The wording of the faculty 
makes this evident beyond doubt." 11 

In the 1967 edition of Cardinal Spellman's Vademecum for the 
Priests Serving the Military Vicariate of the United States of America, 
the Military Chaplains are given the faculty, even in time of peace : 

"To use, for a just cause, instead of an altar stone the Greek 
or Latin Antimensium with due observance of liturgical pre- 
scriptions regarding altar cloths and the corporal." 12 

The Motu-Proprio of Pope Paul VI, Pastorale Munus, of November 
30, 1963, gave to all Local Ordinaries of the Universal Church (of all 
Rites, Western and Eastern), the faculty to grant, for a just and serious 
reason, to all Priests subject to them, who enjoy the faculty of the por- 
table altar, the faculty of substituting for the portable altar stone the 
Byzantine or the Latin forms of the antimension. 13 

At this juncture, we have reached a point where the history of 
the use of the Byzantine antimension fuses with that of the newly insti- 
tuted Latin antimensium, and these two will be considered together in the 

to grant this request as presented, as long as all other things are properly observed 
which are necessary for the celebration of Mass. All other prescriptions to the con- 
trary notwithstanding. 

February 26, 1943- 

Charles Cardinal Salotti 
Prefect of the Sacred 
Congregation of Rites" 

11 Welsh, op. cit., p. 94. 

12 Francis Cardinal Spellman, Vademecum for the Priests Serving the 
Military' Vicariate of the United States of America, New York: The Military Or- 
dinariate (30 East 51st Street, N.Y., N.Y. 10022), p. 1967, faculty 8, p. 15, 

13 Pastorale Munus, part. I, faculty no. 9- Cfr. below, pp. 212-213, tor 


next section. 14 We would like to remark, as we pointed out above, 15 that 
unfortunately these various indults and faculties leave intact, for the Latin 
Rite Priest who has not received special permission from the competent 
ecclesiastical Superior, the prohibition of canon 823, § 2 against celebrating 
the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on a Byzantine antimension. It is to be 
hoped that the revision of the Code of Canon Law for the Latin Church, 
presently being worked upon, will rectify this unfortunate situation. 

Cfr. below, pp. 175-182. 
p. 165. 



The antimensinm latinum had its inchoative beginnings in the first 
part of the second quarter of the XX century and saw its final develop- 
ment in the latter years of the same period ; it is thus a new canonical 
institute, post-Code, and the documentation concerning it, while far 
more precise, is relatively scarce when compared to the more then a 
millenium of history and legislation regarding the Byzantine antimension. 
Nevertheless, in a short time the Latin antimension has come into wide- 
spread use as a substitute for the Latin portable altar stone. 



Altough the exact origin of the antimensium Latinum is unknown, 
there can be no doubt that it found its inspiration in the highly useful 
Byzantine antimension. 1 

I. Oddly enough, the Latin Rite antimension, like its Byzantine 
counterpart, seems to have been born amid the turmoil of religious per- 
secution, this time in Mexico. Priests were the special target, and it 
could be dangerously compromising to be found with any of the acou- 
trements necessary for the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass 
or the administration of the Sacraments, such as altar stones, Mass 
wine, hosts (altar breads), chalices, vestments, etc. The persecution 
became particularly atrocious during the years 1926 to 1928, when many 
Priests and Religious were killed, and to facilitate the apostolate of the 
Mexican clergy, the Sacred Congregation of the Council, on December 23, 
1927, granted to the local Ordinaries in Mexico certain extraordinary 
faculties among which were : 

"The faculty to celebrate, in case of extraordinary necessity, 
and also to allow others (the Priests subject to them) to cele- 
brate, for the purpose of consecrating the Sacred Eucharist 
to administer to the sick and dying, wearing as vestments at 
least a blessed stole and surplice, if this can be conveniently 
done, and in place of an altar using a small blessed linen cloth 
which cannot be re-converted to non-religious use, before a 
Cross, and if they can be had, two candles, observing the ritual 
prescriptions at least in substance." 2 

1 Cfr. Ayala Lopez, op. cit., p. 246 ; A. Gutierrez, "De Linteo Benedicto 
Loco Altaris Portatilis pro Missionariis", Commentarium pro Religiosis et Mis- 
sionariis, 34 (1955), p. 288 ; Ting Pong Lee, op. cit., p. 140. 

2 Facultas celebrandi, in casibus extraordinariae necessitatis, et etiam 
permittendi ut alii celebrent, ad Sacras Species parandas infirmis et moribundis 


These small pieces of blessed linen cloth excited no suspicion, as 
no doubt they could be concealed as handkerchiefs or ordinary table 
napkins (serviettes), and were, by this extraordinary disposition of the 
Holy See, adequate and useful substitutes for the consecrated altar 
stone. It is to be noted that nothing is mentioned as to the inclusion of 
Relics, since these would have been detected by the persecutors, and no 
special form was given as to their blessing. 3 

We cannot establish a definite relationship between these blessed 
linen cloths used by the Mexican clergy instead of portable altar stones 
and the above mentioned 4 "veils" furnished with Relics granted to military 
chaplains during World War II. Father Ignatius Ting Pong Lee, in his 
brief treatment of the history of the antimensium latinum, while men- 
tioning the Mexican faculties of 1927, calls the liturgical objects used 
by the military chaplains "a linen cloth" and not a "veil" (as in the mi- 
litary faculties mentioned above) : 

"With the outbreak of the War (W.W. II) began a profound 
change, although by way of exception, in the discipline of the 
Code of Canon Law concerning altars. Pope Pius XII granted 
to military chaplains, under specified conditions and observing 
certain formalities, the faculty of offering the Holy Sacrifice of 
the Mass on a kind of linen cloth which took the place of the 
portable altar stone." 5 

administrandas, adhibitis saltern stola et superpelliceo benedictis, si id conve- 
nienter fieri possit et loco altaris utendi panniculis lineis benedictis ad alios pro- 
fanos usus non convetendi, ante Crucem, et, si haberi possunt, duas candelas, 
observatis ritibus saltern in substantialibus." as in Matthaus Conte A Coro- 
nata, Interpretatio Authentica Codicis Iuris Canonici et circa ipsum Sanctae Sedis 
Iurisprudentia igi6-ig40, Rome : Marietti editori, 1940, p. 185. This was com- 
municated directly to the Mexican Ordinaries, and secretly because of the perse- 
cution, and for this reason was never printed officially in any official acts or 
documents of the Holy See, and therefore the primary sources are lacking. For 
other secondary sources, cfr. C.L. Digest, II, p. 88 and Can. 845 ; Coronata, 
De Sacramentis, op. cit., no. 256, footnote 6, p. 230. 

3 In similar circumstances, Ayala Lopez, op. cit., p. 244 and Paventi, 
op. cit., p. 250, suggest the formulae found in the Rituale Romano, tit. VIII, 
cap. 21 : "Benedictio mapparum seu tobalearum" (usual blessing for altar cloths) 
or cap. 22 "Benedictio pallae et corporalis" (used for blessing the pall and cor- 
poral). Perhaps no special form was mentioned because of fear of lack of proper 
liturgical books and texts. Cfr. below, pp. 197-198. 

4 Cfr. above, pp. 169-171. 

5 Ting Pong Lee, op. cit., p. 139 : "Immani flagrante bello incipit, excep- 
tionali quidem via, profunda disciplinae Codicis innovatio quoad altaria. Pius XII 

i 7 7 

2. The next time that we hear of the antimensium latinum is in a 
decree 6 obtained March 12, 1947, from the Sacred Congregation of Rites 
by the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith for its 
mission territories. This latter Sacred Congregation communicated to 
all the Ordinaries in mission countries the faculty to grant to their Priests 
to use instead of a portable altar stone a cloth made of linen or hemp, 
blessed by a Bishop using a specially prescribed formula of blessing, 7 
and having sewn into one of its right hand corners sacred Relics authen- 
ticated by the Bishop. The faculty had attached to it the following limi- 
tations, obliging in conscience : 8 it was to be used only 1) in places where 
there were insufficient roads and means of transportation ; 2) where there 
was no church or oratory either public or private (and furnished with 
a consecrated altar stone) ; 3) when it was very inconvenient to carry 
about or have at hand a portable altar stone ; 4) all other rubrical pre- 
sriptions concerning altars were to be observed, especially those concern- 
ing the requirement of using altar cloths and a corporal. 9 

3. It was at this point that the essential form of the antimensium 
latinum became crystalized : as a linen or hemp cloth blessed by a Bishop 
and containing in the right hand corner, 9a authenticated Relics ; 10 from 
this point onwards, only the circumstances of its use change slightly 
as to particulars. 

indulsit capellanis militiae addictis ut in quibusdam adiunctis et quibusdam 
etiam servatis conditionibus, Missae sacrincium offerre valerent super quoddam 
linteum quod locum petrae sacrae teneret." He calls the 1947 S.C.P.F. Faculty 
"the same privilege" ("idem privelegium"). L. Buijs, Facultates Ordinariorum 
et Legatorum Sanctae Sedis in Missionibus necnon Facilitate et Gratiae Pro Ame- 
rica Latina et Insulis Philippinis, Romae : Apud Aedes Universitatis Grego- 
rianae, 1963 (henceforth cited as Buijs, Facultates Ordinariorum) pp. 49-5° 
also terms the object used by the Military Chaplain "a linen cloth blessed by a 
Bishop" - "linteum ab Episcopo benedictum". 

6 "De speciali gratia, facta verbo cum Sanctissimo" - The text may be 
found in Ephemerides Iuris Canonici, III (i947)» PP- 250-251. 

7 The text of the formula of blessing was appended to the faculties. Cfr. 
below, pp. 197 if, 302. 

8 "Et onerata eorum conscientia". 

9 We will examine this faculty and restrictions in their particulars below, 
pp. 217-218. 

93 Perhaps from Benedict XIV's description of Byzantine antimension 
with relics in corner. Cfr. above, p. 159. n. 39. 

10 I.e. of Martyrs as specified in the formula of blessing, cfr. below, pp. 

13 - J. M. Izzo - The Antimension 

i 7 8 

4. In 1950, the identical faculty was granted to the Archbishop 
of Calcutta to be given to the Priests of his Archdiocese (which depends 
upon the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith), under 
the same conditions as the 1947 faculties, and for a period of 10 years. 11 

In 1957 Faculties for the Military Ordinariate of the United States 
of America still referred to a "veil" : 

"18. To use for the celebration of Mass, in place of the sacred 
stone used as a portable altar, a veil blessed by a Bishop, in 
which there have been placed Relics authenticated by a Bishop. 
This veil may be used only if there is no church or oratory 
available and it would be very inconvenient to carry the stone 
on the trip or have it always available. The rubrics are to be 
observed especially in reference to the altar-cloths and the 
corporal" 12 

However, this time, unlike the World War II faculties reported 
above, 13 the "veil" must be blessed by a Bishop whereas befor nothing 
was mentioned as to blessing. In all likelihood, this "veil" is the antimen- 
sium latinum, 14 and the English translation retains the old terminology 
of "veil". In fact, the 1961 edition of the Vademecum for the Priests 
serving in the Military Vicariate of the United States of America keeps 
the exact wording 15 of the 1957 faculties while giving as the source a 
decree 16 from the Sacred Consistorial Congregation dated December 9, 
i960, whose Latin text agrees substantially with its English translation, 
except that the Latin text uses the phrase "linteum ex lino vel cannabe 

11 Cfr. C.L. Digest, III, pp. 361-362, ad can. 822. 

12 C.L. Digest, V, pp. 313-314, ad. can. 451. 
18 Cfr. above, pp. 169-171. 

14 Unfortunately, since this was a private response, the Latin text has 
never been published and was unavailable at the time of the present writing. 

15 Francis Cardinal Spellman, Vademecum for the Priests Serving the 
Military Vicariate of the United States of America, New York : The Military Or- 
dinariate (30 East 51st Street, N.Y., N.Y. 10022), 1961, pp. 11-12. 

16 Ibidem, p. 68, Protocol Number 880/57 Sacra Congregatio Consistorialis, 
9 December, i960 : "4. Ut in sacrosancto Missae sacrificio celebrando loco altaris 
portatilis seu petra sacrae substituatur aliquod linteum ex lino vel cannabae 
confectum et ab Episcopo benedictum, in quo conditae sunt Sanctorum Reli- 
quiae ab eodem Episcopo recognitae iis tantum in casibus in quibus aut nulla 
ecclesia vel oratorium sive publicum sive privatum existet, et valde incommodum 
sit lapideum altare secum in itinere transferre aut in promptu habere. Servatis 
de cetero servandis iuxta Rubricas praesertim quoad tobaleas et corporale." 


confectum" which is the antimensium latinum and has been incorrectly 
translated as "a veil" in the English language version of the faculties. 
The 1967 edition 17 of the Vademecum has corrected this error in ter- 
minology and instead carries the faculty : 

"8. To use, for a just cause, instead of an altar stone the 
Greek or Latin Antimension with due observance of liturgical 
prescriptions regarding altar cloths and the corporal." 18 

5. On August 8, 1959, the Sacred Consistorial Congregation made 
the following grant to the local Ordinaries of Latin America and the 
Philippine Islands in the customary Decennial Faculties : 

"Local Ordinaries may grant to Priests subject to their jurisdi- 
ction, where sufficients roads and vehicles are lacking, the faculty 
of substituting, in place of the portable altar or sacred stone, a 
cloth made of linen or hemp and blessed by a Bishop, in which 
are placed Relics of Saints authenticated by the same Bishop ; 
the said Priest may celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass 
upon these only in those cases, binding in conscience, in which 
there is no church nor oratory, neither public nor private, and 
in which it would be very inconvenient to carry an altar stone 
with them on the journey or to have one handy. All else must 
be observed according to the rubrics, especially as regards the 
use of altar cloths and a corporal." 19 

These faculties are quite similar to the 1947 ones of the Sacred 
Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith. 20 

17 We have placed this material here, out of its chronological sequence, for 
the sake of logical continuity. 

18 1967 Vademecum {civ. above, p. 178, note 15), p. 15. 

19 "Fac. n. 10. Ordinarii locorum sacerdotibus suae iurisdictioni obnoxiis, 
ubi viarum et curruum deest copia, facultatem concedere valent sustituendi, 
loco altaris portatilis seu petrae sacrae, aliquod linteum ex lino vel cannabae 
confectum et ab Episcopo benedictum, in quo conditae sint Sanctorum Reliquiae 
ab eodem Episcopo recognitae, super quo iidem sacerdotes sacrosanctum Missae 
Sacrificium celebrare queant iis tantum in casibus, et onerata eorum conscientia, 
in quibus aut nulla ecclesia vel oratorium sive publicum sive privatum existet, 
et valde incommodum sit lapideum altare secum in itinere transferre aut in 
promptu, habere. Servatis de cetero servandis iuxta Rubricas, praesertim quoad 
tobaleas et corporale." Latin text in AAS 51 (i959), P- 915 and Buijs, Facultates 
Ordinariorum, op. cit., p. 256. English translation in C.L. Digest, V, p. 175 ad 
can. 66. 

20 Cfr. Duffy, op. cit., p. 46, also above, pp. 177 ff. 


6. The 1960-1970 Decennial Faculties granted by the Sacred Con- 
gregation for the Propagation of the Faith to the local Ordinaries of the 
mission territories subject to it, contained the same faculty ; however, 
this time the restrictions concerning insufficient roads and vehicles and 
inconvenience of carrying or providing a portable altar stone have been 
removed, 21 a great step forward in the history of the antimensium latinum. 

The final stage in the history of this canonical institute, in its 
present-day form was reached with the Motu Proprio of Pope Paul VI, 
Pastorale Munus, dated November 30, 1963. This gave to all local Or- 
dinaries 22 the faculty : 

"9. To grant the faculty to Priests who enjoy the indult of 
the privilege of the portable altar that, for a just and serious 
cause, they may use in place of a consecrated altar stone a 
Byzantine antimension or a cloth, blessed by a Bishop, in one 
of whose right hand corners are enclosed Relics of Holy Martyrs 
which have been authenticated by a Bishop, all else being ob- 
served in accordance with the rubrics, especially with regard 
to the use of altar cloths and a corporal." 23 

Here the restrictions specified in regard to travel and inconvenience 
have been removed entirely ; however, the faculty is to be given to those 

21 As well as the phrase "et onerata eorum conscientia" ; SC. de Pro- 
paganda Fide Protocol no. 2150/60 : "Fac. no. 6. Permittendi ut sacerdotes 
substituere possint altari portatili seu petrae sacrae aliquod linteum ex lino vel 
cannabae confectum et rite benedictum, in quo conditae sint Sanctorum Reli- 
quiae ab aliquo Ordinari loci recognitae, super quo iidem sacerdotes sacrosanc- 
tum Missae sacrificium celebrare queant iis tantum in casibus in quibus nulla 
ecclesia vel nullum oratorium publicum extet, servatis de cetero servandis iuxta 
rubricas, praesertim quoad tobaleas et corporale." Latin text in Buijs, Fa- 
cilitates Ordinariorum, op. cit., p. xviii ; Hermes Peters, Facultates Quas Ordi- 
narii et Misionarii Habere Solent Cum Brevi Commentario (3rd ed.), Rome : 
Pontificium Athenaeum Antonianum, i960, p. 13 ; Ting Pong Lee, op. cit., 
p. 6. English translation C.L. Digest, V, p. 177, ad can. 66. 

22 The active and passive subjects of this faculty, as well as the other 
particulars, will be discussed below, pp. 212 ff. 

23 Pastorale Munus, I : "9. Concedendi facultatem sacerdotibus, indulto 
altaris portatilis fruentibus, ut, iusta et gravi de causa, pro petra sacra adhibere 
valeant Graecorum antimensium, vel linteum, ab Episcopo benedictum, in cuius 
angulo dextro sint reconditae reliquiae Sanctorum Martyrum, pariter ab Epi- 
scopo recognitae, servatis de cetero servandis iuxta rubricas, praesertim quoad 
tobaleas et corporale." Latin text in AAS 56 (1964), p. 7. English translation 
in Fredrick R. McManus, "Ordinary Faculties of Bishops - Pastorale Munus" , 
The Jurist, XXIV (1964), p. 100. 


priests who already enjoy the privilege of celebrating on a portable altar. 
The only other relatively new element is that the Relics are specified in 
the faculty itself as those of Martyrs ; in any case, as we have noted 
above, 23a the use of Martyrs' Relics had been enjoined, if not in the 1947 
faculties of the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith 
themselves, at least in the formula for the blessing of the antimensium 
latinum which was appended to these faculties. 

7. In the present day, the antimensium latinum has come into 
widespread use, not only by missionary Priests and those on voyages, 
but also at home to solve the problem of an altar apt for the celebration 
of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass with the Celebrant facing the congre- 
gation. The vast majority of the Catholic churches of the Roman Rite 
were constructed for the celebration of Mass according to the old rubrics 
with the Celebrant facing East (back to the people) ; these altars, whether 
consecrated fixed altars or altars "ad modum fixi" ("stable altars") 24 
are solidly built and often massive objects and much labor and expense 
would be required to remove the old altar and re-order the sanctuary with 
a view to having the priest face the congregation. The half measure of 
having the priest at the south side (epistle side) of the altar for the 
Liturgy of the Word and then celebrating the Liturgy of the Eucharist 
with his back to the Faithful, has been found liturgically unsatisfying. 
A great many churches have used the solution of placing some sort of 
fitting wooden table in the midst of the sanctuary to use as an altar 
versus populum, leaving the original altar with its tabernacle undisturbed; 
this wooden table is either removed when Mass is over, to leave the 
sanctuary unencumbered, or it is left in place permanently and removed 
only when more room is needed, during cleaning and repairs of the church, 
etc. Instead of having a special receptacle incised into the surface of the 
table to receive a portable altar stone (otherwise the chalice or ciborium 
might tip over if placed too near or on the edge of the altar stone hidden 
under the altar cloths), with the added inconvenience of danger of breakage, 
many priests have obtained from their Ordinary (Bishop) permission to 
substitute for the Petra Sacra the simple and serviceable Latin or Byz- 
zantine antimension 25 placed on the table-top underneath the altar 

23a Cfr. above, p. 177, belox, pp. 193-196. 

24 Cfr. above, p. 105, note 4. 

25 Since this is not a use "extra loca sacra" but rather "intra locum sa- 
crum", the Priest need not necessarily first enjoy the Faculty of the Portable 


cloths, transforming a homely peice of furniture, such as was used by 
our Lord Himself, into an object consonant with the ancient tradition 
of the Church, a fitting place upon which to offer the august Sacrifice of 
the Mass. In churches being constructed after the introduction of the 
"New Liturgy", the sanctuary is furnished with a fixed consecrated 
stone altar apt for celebration versus populum and entirely in harmony 
with the tradition of stone altars in the Latin Church. 26 

Altar ; however, the Ordinary's permission is still needed to substitute the an- 
timension for the Petra Sacra since Canon 823, § 2 remains in force. 

26 For new trends in Latin Liturgical Law in regard to fixed and moveable 
altars, cfr. below, pp. 225-228. 



I. There can be little doubt that the Latin Rite antimensium imi- 
tates that of the Byzantine Rite not only in name but also in concept, 
for like its Constantinopolitan counterpart, it is a cloth, sanctified by a 
Bishop, and containing relics ; however, although they share these essen- 
tials, they are dis-similar in many other (accidental) particulars, as we 
will see. Father Gutierrerz writes : 

"This Latin (blessed) cloth imitates in a certain manner the 
Oriental Antimension ; nevertheless the former differs substan- 
tially 1 from the latter in that it substitutes only for the por- 
table altar because : 'all other things must be observed according 
to the rubrics, especially as regards the use of altar cloths 
and a corporal V 2 

1 This difference would seem to be accident rather than substantial since 
it regards merely the rubrics for the use of the antimension. As a matter of fact, 
the rescripts granting the use of the Byzantine Antimension to Latin Rite Bish- 
ops and Priests often have the same clause. Cfr. examplars of indults in Ap- 
pendix I, pp. 300—301. 

2 A. Gutierrez, "De Linteo Benedicto Loco Altaris Portatilis pro Mis- 
sionariis", Commentarium pro Religiosis et Missionariis, 34 (1955), p. 288 : "Hoc 
linteum latinum quommodo imitatur antimensium orientale ; tamen substan- 
tialiter ab eo differt, quia tantum substituit petram sacram : 'servatis de cetero 
servandis iuxta Rubricas, praesertim quoad tobaleas et corporale'." Similarly, 
Ayala Lopez, op. cit., p. 246 : "There is a fundamental difference between the 
Latin antimensium and the Greek antimension, to which paragraph 2 of canon 
288 (sic - read canon 823) refers. Certainly it preserves great similarities with it 
in its external form, since from the Greek antimension were copied not a few 
of its particulars ; but its symbolism and constitutive blessing make them differ 
radically, so that in its profound signification it is something eDtirely distinct." - 
"Tiene una differencia fundamental con el antimensio griego, a que se refiere el 
paragrafo 2 del canon 288. Cierto es que conserva grandes analogias en la forma 
externa, ya que de el se copiaron non pocas de las particularidades de la anti- 


Father Xavier Paventi intimates that there was a certain amount 
of polemic against this innovation in the Latin Rite : 

"With the granting of this concession 3 there was introduced 
into the Latin liturgy an innovation against which not a few 
took up arms but in a mistaken cause, and now also the Latin 
Church has its antimensium..." 4 

2. Apropos the terminology in regard to the Latin Rite antimen- 
sium, two names are used, one a technical term borrowed from the Greek 
liturgy, antimensium latinum, and the other a rather cumbersome de- 
scription: "Linteum benedicum loco altaris portatilis." 

Antimensium or antimensium latinum is borrowed from the Greek 
avTip)v<nov (antimension) . 5 Thus Paventi says : "This type of (sacred) 
cloth we may with perfect right call the antimensium latinum." 6 Father 

mensa ; mas el simbolisrao y la benediction constituiva le hacen variar radical- 
mente en lo formal, como algo totalmente distinto en su alta significacion." ; 
Cosmas Sartori, o.f.m., Iuris Missionarii Elementa, Roma : Libreria S. Antonio, 
195 1, p. 97 : "This cloth is not to be confused in any way with the Greek anti- 
mension, upon which Latin Rite priests are forbidden to celebrate (can. 823, 2) 
and which prohibition remains in force : they differ in form and blessing." "Hoc 
linteum nullo modo confundendum est cum Graecorum antimensiis, in quibus 
sacerdotes ritus Latini celebrare nequeunt (can. 823, 2), quae prohibitio manet ; 
differt ab iis et forma et benedictione." Joachim Nabuco, Pontificalis Romani 
Expositio Iuridico-Practica, Functiones Pontificates Extraordinariae (Editio se- 
cunda iuxta novam editionem Pontificalis Romani rivisa), Tournai : Desclee & 
Co., 1962, p. 562 intitles his section on the Blessing of the Latin antimensium : 
"Ritus Benedicendi Linteum Ex Lino Vel Cannabe Confectum Ad Instar An- 

8 I.e. Indult to use antimensium granted to military chaplains and mis- 

4 Xaverius Paventi, "Quaestiones de lure Missionali", Ephemerides Iuris 
Canonici, 3 (1947), p. 250 : "Concessio data introducebat in liturgiam latinam 
aliquam innovationem contra quern non pauci insurrexerunt, sed perperam, et 
nunc etiam ecclesia latina habet suum antimensium...". Cfr. also Ayala Lopez, 
op. cit., p. 243. Duffy, op. cit., p. 47, says : "This 'linteum' is something quite 
new in the Latin Church ; the first time it is officially referred to in the Liturgical 
Books is in n. 525 of the 'Novus Rubricarum Codex'." ; for Codex Rubricarum, 
vid. below, p. 207, note 2. 

5 Cfr. above, pp. 23-26. 

6 Xaverius Paventi, Breviarium Iuris Missionalis (editio secunda valde 
auctus), Rome : Officium Libri Catholici, 1961, pp. 32-33 : "Linteum id genus 
Optimo iure vocare possumus antimensium latinum." 


Manuel Ayala Lopez opts for the form antimensa as more in conformity 
with the phonetics of the Latin language, 7 while Father Ignatius Ting 
Pong Lee notes that "the name antimensium latinum is a foreign intrusion 
because this institution as such was until now utterly unknown in th 
Latin Church. " 8 Be this as it may, the term "latin antimensium" has 
unequivocally entered into the technical language of the Latin Church, 
and it is called such in official liturgical sources such as the Codex Ru- 
bricarum 9 and the Pontificate Romanum, 10 and in the commentaries of 
canonical writers such as Fathers Belluco, 11 Bouscaren, 12 Buijs, 13 
Cracco, 14 Duffy, 15 Nabuco, 16 Paventi, 17 and Regatillo. 18 

7 Ayala Lopez, op. cit., p. 244 : "...el cual puede llamarse antimensa, mas 
en conformidad con la fonetica latina." 

8 Ting Pong Lee, op. cit., p. 140, note 294 : "Ex similitudine quam pre- 
fert huiusmodi linteum cum Antimensiis Graecorum, a nonnullis vocatum fuit 
Antimensium Latinum. Etsi in scopo et in confectione similitudo obvia est, 
nomen vere est allogenum quia institutum qua tale prorsus ignotum est in Ec- 
clesia Latina." 

9 I.e. Motu Proprio Rubricarum Instructio of Pope John XXIII, July 25, 
i960, as in A AS 52 (i960), 593-740, caput XI, De Preparatione Altaris ad Mis- 
sam, p. 685, ("canon") no. 525 : "525. Altare, in quo sacrosanctum Missae Sacri- 
ficium celebrandum est, debet esse totum lapideam, rite consecratum ; vel sal- 
tern habere debet tabulam lapideam, seu petram sacram, item rite consecratum, 
quae tam ampla sit ut hostiam et maiorem partem calicis capiat ; aut etiam, ex 
indulto apostolico, antimensium, rite benedictum." 

10 Pontificate Romanum, Pars Secunda (editib typica emendata), Rome : 
Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis, 1961, pp. 110-111, 139. In the index it is simply 
entitled "Benedictio antimensii" ; in the title of the formula for the blessing the 

11 Belluco, Novissimae Ordinariorum Locorum Facultates, op. cit., pp. 84- 
87 ; Facultates Superiorum Religiosorum, op. cit., p. 62. 

12 C.L. Digest, III, pp. 361-363, ad can. 822. 

13 Buijs, Facultates Ordinariorum et Legatorum, etc., op. cit., pp. 50 ; 
Facultates Religiosorum, op. cit., p. 47. 

14 Amadeo Cracco, Breve Corso di Missionologia (2nd ed.), Padua : Mis- 
sioni Francescane, 1964, p. 240. 

15 Duffy, op. cit., pp. 46-47. 
18 Nabuco, loc. cit. 

17 Paventi, "Quaestiones de lure Missionali", loc. cit., Breviarium Iuris 
Missionalis, loc. cit. 

18 Edward F. Regatillo, Ius Sacramentarium, (4th ed.), Santander : 
Editorial Sal Terrae, 1964, no. 246, p. 156. 


In regard to the descriptive names for the Latin antimensium, the 
text for its blessing in the Pontificate Romanum is entitled "Benedictio 
Antimensii seu Lintei Loco Tabulae in Celebratione Missae Adhibendi," 19 
and in the text of the blessing originally approved by the Sacred Con- 
gregation of Rites on March 12, 1947, and appended to the formulae of 
various faculties for missionaries, etc., the title is "Benedictio Lintei loco 
altaris portatilis a missionalibus dumtaxat adhibendi pro celebratione 
Missae." 20 In Pastorale Munus it is called "linteum, ab Episcopo be- 
nedictum, in cuius angulo dextro sint reconditae reliquiae Sanctorum 
Martyrum, pariter ab Episcopo recognitae." 21 Some other descriptive 
names used in Pontifical and by authors of commentaries incorporating 
one or the other notes of the form or use of the Latin antimensium are : 
sacrum linteum in vicem altaris portatilis," 22 "linteum loco altaris por- 
tatilis," 23 "linteum ab episcopo benedictum," 24 "linteum benedictum," 25 
etc. The defect of these descriptive names is that "linteum" can really 
refer to any of the altar cloths or linens and hence descriptive clauses, 
more or less long and unwieldy must be added to it. For that reason the 
use of the term antimensium latinum, although originally extraneous to 
the Latin tongue, is preferable as being exact and facile ; further discussion 
must be left to the philologists and linguistic purists. 

19 Pontificate Romanum, loc. cit., the 1952 edition of the Rituale Romanum, 
tit. IX, cap. IX, Reserved Blessing no. 21 carries the title "RITUS BENE- 
speciali Indulto Apostolico loco petrae seu altaris portatilis in regionibus Missio- 
num in celebratione Missae adhiberi valeat." ; it is to be presumed that in the 
next future edition of the Rituale Romanum the title of this blessing (as well as 
the text ; cfr. below, p. 203) will be revised and brought in accordance with the 
Pontificate Romanum. 

20 Cfr. AOFM, 71 (1952), p. 247; Buijs, Facultates Or dinariorum et Legato- 
rum, etc. op. cit., pp. 51-52 ; Commentarium pro Religiosis et Missionariis, 34 
( x 955)» P- 2QO > C.L. Digest, loc. cit., Ephemerides Liturgicae, 62 (1948), pp. 381- 
384 ; II Monitore Ecclesiastico, 73 (1948), pp. 188-189 ; Paventi, Breviarium 
Iuris Missionalis, op. cit., pp. 33-34. 

21 Pastorale Munus, I, no. 9 ; for text cfr. above, p. 180. 

22 Ting Pong Lee, op. cit., p. 138. 

23 C.L. Digest, loc. cit., 1961-1970 Decennial Faculties of S.C. de Propa- 
ganda Fide, A., no 6, for text cfr. below, p. 217. 

24 Decretum de Facultatibus et Gratiis Pro America Latina et pro Insulis 
Philippinis, S. Congr. Consistorialis, August 8, 1959, (AAS, 51 (1959), pp. 915- 
918), no. 10 (for text, cfr. below, p. 219) ; Buijs, loc. cit. 

26 Belluco, loc. cit. 



We have already noted 1 that the Byzantine and Latin forms of 
the antimensium share some similarities in their external characteristic 3 
and differ in others. At this point we turn our attention to the Latin 
Rite antimensium in order to examine its format in regard to the mate- 
rial from which it is made, its dimensions, the inclusion of relics in it, 
then the formalities of its blessing, and finally the use of the antimensium 

I. Material 

1. The Latin Rite antimensium is a cloth, 2 and the material pre- 
scribed for this cloth is either linen or hemp ("ex lino vel cannabe"). This 
prescription is included in the title of the blessing of the antimentium 
latinum found in the Rituale Romanum, 3 and is specified also in faculty 
number 6 of the 1961-1970 Decennial Faculties of the Sacred Congrega- 
tion for the Propagation of the Faith, 4 and in faculty number 10 of the 
1959-1969 Faculties for Latin America and the Philippine Islands granted 

1 Cfr. above, pp. 183 ff. 

2 The term linteum used to denote the Latin antimension, as discussed 
above, p. 186, is a term which may refer to any of the sacred cloths without 
necessarily being charged with the particular significance of it being made of 
linen material, (just as we use the term "table linens", in common parlance to 
refer to any of the cloths used at the table, even if made of silk, satin, cotton, 
muslin, or any other material as well as linen otherwise it would be redundant 
to speak of a "linteum ex lino confectum" and incorrect to use the phrase "lin- 
teum ex cannabe confectum". 

3 Cfr. above, p. 186. 

4 For text, cfr. below, p. 217. 


by the Sacred Consistorial Congregation. 5 The requirement that the 
Latin antimensium be made of linen or hemp is noted also by the authors, 
Fathers Belluco, 6 Bouscaren, 7 Buijs, 8 Duffy, 9 Paventi, 10 and Ting 
Pong Lee. 11 

2. The long-standing tradition of the Latin Church 12 has been 
to use linen as the material from which the corporal and altar cloths 
are to be made. Thus the Bolognese monk Gratian in his collection of 
Canon Law called the Decretum Gratiani (compiled between 1139 and 
1159 A.D.) 13 and assumed into the Corpus Juris Canonici of the Latin 
Church, reports the following canon, which he attributes to Pope St. Syl- 
vester (d. 335) : 

"After having consulted all authorities, we declare that no 
one may presume to celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass on a 
silk cloth or dyed wool, but rather on a pure linen (cloth) con- 
secrated by a Bishop, that is woven from flax brought forth 
from the earth ; for the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ was 
buried in a clean linen cloth." 14 

6 For text, cfr. below, p. 219. 

6 Belluco, Novissime Ordinariorum Locorum Facilitates, op. cit., p. 85. 

7 C.L. Digest, III, pp. 361-363, ad can. 822. 

8 Buijs, Facilitates Ordinariorum et Legatorum, etc., op. cit., p. 50 ; Fa- 
cilitates Religiosorum, op. cit., p. 48. 

9 Duffy, op. cit., pp. 45-47. 

10 Paventi, Breviarium Juris Missionalis, op. cit., p. 33. 

11 Ting Pong Lee, op. cit., p. 140. 

12 However, we have seen a similar tradition and symbolism of linen winding 
sheet of Christ in the Byzantine Church ; cfr. above, pp. 34 ff. 

13 Cfr. Cicognani, op. cit., p. 275 ; the Decretum Gratiani, though enjoying 
great prestige in the Latin church and valuable as an historical source of tradi- 
tion at least for the time at which it was compiled, remains a private and not an 
authentic collection. Cfr. Ibidem, pp. 287-288. 

14 C. 46, d. 1, de cons. : "Consulto omnium constituimus ut sacrificium 
altaris non in serico panno aut intincto quisquam celebrare missam praesumat, 
sed in puro lino ab episcopo c/msecrato, terreno scilicet lino procreato atque 
contexto ; sicut corpus Domini nostri Jesu Christi in sindone munda sepultum 
fuit." The Liber Pontificalis (ed. Mommsen), torn I, p. 51, in regard to St. Syl- 
vester carries substantially the same notice : "Hie constituit, ut sacrificium 
altaris non in sericum neque in pannum tinctum celebrari, nisi tantum in lineum 
terrenum procreatum, sicut corpus Domini nostri Jesu Christi in sindonem li- 
neam mundum sepultus est." the word order in the latter, "non in sericum neque 
in pannum tinctum", seems to make more sense, it also adds the qualifications 


This canon is almost certainly spurious and therefore we cannot 
with certainty speak of a IV century tradition of using linen for the 
cloths used for the celebration of the Mass ; the most we can say is that 
it was probably already an old tradition by the XII century when Gra- 
tian included it in his Decretum. 15 Up until the present time, the Holy 
See has always insisted that the corporal and altar cloths under normal 
circumstances be woven of linen and although more recently the use of 
hemp was permitted, other materials remained forbidden without a 
special Apostolic Indult. 16 Although in particular cases permission to 
use other materials for the corporal and altar cloths was given, and then 
only rarely, a general indult was never given 17 until the present time 
when in the 1 961-1970 Decennial Faculties for missionaries under the 
direct jurisdiction of the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the 
Faith, we find the faculty given to Ordinaries : 

"III. Permitting the use of liturgical vestments and altar 
cloths made from cotton, or, with the exception of the corporal, 
pall and purificator, from any other fitting material." 18 

"in sindonem lineam" which seems superfluous for the Synoptics Matthew 27 : 
59 ; Mark 16 : 46 ; Luke 23 : 53 use the word otvStov (sindon : "winding sheet") 
and John (19 : 40) uses the word ' 606viov (othonion) ("linen sheet") synono- 
mously. Cfr. also glossa s.v. consulto on c. 46, d. 1, de cons. 

15 Cfr. Martimort, op. cit., p. 369 ; J. Deshusses, "Corporal", DDC, IV, 
colos. 607-610 ; H. Leclercq "Corporal", DACL, III B , cols. 2986-2987 ; Mar- 
timort, op. cit., pp. 299, 337, 369 ; Rhigetti, op. cit., I, pp. 532-535 ; Erwin 
L. Sadlowski, Sacred Furnishings of Churches, Washington, D.C. : The Catholic 
University of America Press (Canon Law Studies no. 315), 1951, pp. 3-4, 12, 
105-106, 126-127. 

16 Decreta Authentica Congr. SS. Rituum, nn. 1287, 2600, 2737, 3387, 
3455. 3868, 3995- 

17 Thus the S.C. of Rites in a letter to the Bishop of Vicenza, Italy (as in 
Ephemerides Liturgicae, 56 (1942), p. 30) : "This Sacred Congregation... has al- 
ways refused to give a general indult, wishing to keep firm and unchanged the 
traditional law which does not admit of any textiles other than the aforemen- 
tioned (linen and hemp)" - "Questa S. Congregazione... sempre si e ricusata di 
concedere un indulto generale, volendo tener ferma ed immutata la tradizionale 
legge che non ammette altri tessuti fuori degli accennati..." 

18 S. Congregatio de Propaganda Fide Protocol Number 2150/60, Formula 
Facultatum Decennalum, A., "11. Permittendi ut adhibenatur paramenta, vestes 
sacrae et mappae altaris, confecto ex gossypio vel, exclusis corporalibus, pallis 
et purificatoriis, ex alia materia, quae deceat." For commentaries on this fa- 
culty, cfr. Buijs, Facultates Ordinariorum et Legatorum, etc., op. cit., pp. 57-58; 
Hermes Peeters, Facultates Quas Ordinarii Et Missionarii Habere Solent Cum 

Thus, Fr. Ting Pong Lee seems to have logic on his side when he 
says apropos the material to be used for the antimensium latinum : 

"This sacred cloth must be made from linen. The predelic- 
tion of the Latin Church for linen is ancient. However, in this 
specific faculty, if we prescind from a certain general reverence 
for tradition, it is difficult to understand the reason for the in- 
sistence on linen when this material was prescribed above all 
for the accessories which came into direct, or nearly so, con- 
contact with the Sacred Eucharist, especially now that even 
these altar cloths may be made from other fitting materials... 
Since now these same sacred cloths may be made from cotton 
(faculty II), it is not apparent why these other materials may 
not be used (for the Latin antimensium)." 19 

In other words, if even those altar cloths which come into intimate 
contact with the Holy Eucharist can be made from cotton, or (with the 
exception of the corpral, pall and purificator) from any other fitting 
material, why cannot the antimensium, which does not contact the 
Eucharist (it lies under three altar cloths and a corporal) be made from 
cotton or other material 20 which is decent and serviceable ? Of course 
here there is room for further evolution in the comparatively short his- 
tory of the legislation concerning the Latin antimensium ; as a matter 
of fact, its blessing 21 as inserted in the 1961 Pontificate Romanum, Part. II a , 
other than calling it a "linteum" 22 does not refer in any way to the 
material from which it is made, unlike the sources referred to above, 28 
thus leaving the field clear for further modification. Likewise, the faculty 
for the use of the antimensium latinum given in the Motu Proprio Pasto- 
rale Munus, 24 unlike similar faculties previously given for the missions, 25 
calls it a 'Tinteum" without further specifying the material from which 
it is made. 

Brevi Commentaria (3rd revised edition), Rome : Pontiricium Athenaeum Anto- 
nianum (Biblioteca Pontificii Athenaei Antoniani n. 10), i960, p. 63 ; Ting 
Pong Lee, op. cit., pp. 152-156. 

19 Ting Pong Lee, op. cit., p. 140, N.B. : the Latin antimensium replaces 
only the altar stone and, unlike its Byzantine analog, is never used as a cor- 
poral or altar cloth and so does not come into contact with the Eucharist. 

20 E.g. some of the modern synthetic fabrics which combine the qualities 
of being robust, soil resistant, and insect and mildew-proof. 

21 Cfr. below, p. 197 ff. 

22 Cfr. above, p. 185, note 10, and p. 187, note 2. 

23 Cfr. pp. 187 ff. 

24 For text, cfr. below, p. 212. 
26 Cfr. above, p. 177. 


3. At present, the antimensium should be made of a quality of 
linen or hemp which is chosen for its sturdiness 26 rather than its fineness 
(since it will be hidden and not in intimate contact with the Sacred 
Eucharist) and which can be easily washed when soiled. Nothing is 
specified as to color. 

II. Dimensions 

i. In regard to the size and shape of the Latin antimensium nothing 
is prescribed. Since by custom the other altar linens and the stone altar, 
whether fixed or portable, are all rectangular, it is fitting that the anti- 
mensium be also rectangular, either square or oblong. 27 Father Joachim 
Nabuco thinks that the antimensium latinum should be square in imita- 
tion of the corporal, 28 but Father Ignatius Ting Pong Lee rightly re- 
marks that nothing has been prescribed as to whether the antimensium 
should be oblong or square. 29 There are quite a number of authors who 
gratuitously assert that the Latin antimensium should or does have the 
same format as the corporal ; of this opinion are Fathers Belluco, 30 
Buijs, 31 Duffy, 32 Nabuco, 33 and Paventi. 34 This is unusual from the 
point of view that the antimensium latinum, unlike its Byzantine coun- 
terpart, never fulfills the functions of the corporal and must be used 

26 Cfr. Nabuco, op. cit., p. 563. It would seem better not to have the an- 
timensium starched, or at least not heavily so, for this may lead to difficulties in 
folding for carrying (for missionaries) or to eventual cracking of the material. 

27 Cfr. Bliley, op. cit., pp. 58, 98 ; Sadlowski, op. cit., p. 126. 

28 Nabuco, op. cit., p. 563 : "Linteum conrici debet quadratum ad instar 
corporalis et sit compactum seu solidum." 

29 Ting Pong Lee, op. cit. , p. 140 : "Quoad formam externam nihil refert 
an linteum sit rectangulare vel quadratum." 

30 Belluco, Novissimae Ordinariorum Locorum Facultates, op. cit., p. 85 : 
"...antimensium latinum... constat velo linteo confecto ex lino vel cannabe, cuius 
amplitudo eadem esse potest ac communis corporalis." 

31 Buijs, Facultates Religiosorum, op. cit., p. 48 : "Potest esse quoque 
eiusdem formae ac magnitudinem ac corporale ordinarium." 

32 Duffy, op. cit., pp. 45-46, speaking of the 1947 rescript of the S. Con- 
gregation for the Propagation of the Faith in favor of missionaries: "This cloth 
was about the same size as a corporal." 

33 Nabuco, loc. cit. 

34 Paventi, Breviarium Iuris Missionalis, op. cit., p. 33 : "Constat velo 
linteo confecto ex lino vel cannabe, cuius amplitudo eadem esse potest ac ilia com- 
munis corporalis." 


under three altar cloths and a distinct corporal. 35 Father Ting Pong 
Lee is the only author who gives a reason when he suggests that the 
antimensium be the same size and shape as the corporal : 

"For convenience's sake, that counsel will be found excellent 
which suggests that the antimensium be made of the same form 
and amplitude as are commonly used for the corporal, so that 
it may be folded up and placed in the burse together with the 
folded corporal." 36 

As a matter of fact, however, nothing is prescribed in the canons 
or rubrics as to the shape and size of the corporal, 37 although those in 
common use are usually white linen squares of about 20 inches (50 cm.) 
on each side, 38 when unfolded. When not in use, the corporal is folded four 
times (bottom 1/3, top 1/3, right 1/3, finally left 1/3) 39 into a square of 
about 31/3 inches (8.4 cm.) to a side. 

2. In any case, since the antimensium is meant to substitute for 
the portable altar stone, we may follow canon 1198, 3 of the Codex Iuris 
Canonici 40 and canon 525 of the Codex Rubricarum 41 which specify that: 

"The portable altar stone is to be large enough so that at 
least the host (altar bread) 42 and the greater part of the chalice 
may be placed on it." 

35 Cfr. below, pp. 207 ff. 

36 Ting Pong Lee, loc. cit. : "Ad commoditatem vero optimum erit con- 
silium linteum ita conficere quoad formam et amplitudinem ut mensura coaequat 
corporalibus communi usu receptis, ut simul complicari possint reponique in 


37 Sadlowski, op. cit., p. 126 : "Neither the rubrics nor the Decrees of the 
Sacred Congregation of Rites contain any prescriptions regarding the form or 
size of these linens." 

38 Ibidem. 

39 Cfr. Caeremoniale Romano-Seraphicum Ordinis Fratrum Minorum (edi- 
tio altera), Quaracchi : Tipografia S. Bonaventura, 1927, pp. 133, 154 ; Joseph 
Wuest, Matters Liturgical (9th ed. translated by Thomas W. Mullaney, re- 
arranged and enlarged by William T. Barry), New York : Frederick Pustet 
Company, 1956, no. 138, L., p. 228. 

40 "Can. 1 198, 3. Petra sacra sit tarn ampla ut saltern hostiam et maiorem 
partem calicis capiat." 

41 For text, cfr. above, p. 185, note 9. 

42 At the time that the CIC (191 7) and the Codex Rubricarum (i960) were 
written, the rubrics of the Roman Rite Mass prescribed that the host lie on the 
corporal itself from the Offertory of the Mass until the Fraction ; since that time, 


Thus the size of the petra sacra (and therefore the antimensium) 
are relative to the size of the paten and chalice, with enough room left 
over to place a ciborium 43 containing particles to be consecrated when 
this is needed. Since the antimensium is easily folded and carried, it is 
fitting that the dimensions be made generous enough so that the paten, 
chalice and ciborium are always entirely contained in the space over it, 
with enough leeway left for the liturgical actions of kissing the altar, 
displacing the chalice to bring the ciborium near the host at the con- 
secration, etc. If it is of the same dimensions as the corporal, 44 the 
celebrant will always be sure that he is celebrating over the sanctified 
part of the altar, that is with the corporal superimposed upon the anti- 
mensium which lies separated from it under the three altar cloths. 45 

III. Inclusion of Relics 

We have seen 46 that the first inchoate Latin Rite antimensium 
did not have Relics, but that the presence of Relics was soon required. 
There can be not doubt that at the present time the presence of Relics in 
the Latin antimensium is necessary for the validity of its blessing and 
the liceity of its use. 47 Since the antimensium substitutes for the petra 

the rubrics have been changed so that the host lies on the paten placed on the 
corporal from the Offertory until the Communion and so space must be calcu- 
lated for the paten also. Cfr. Instructio Altera Ad Exsecutionem Constitutionibus 
De Sacra Liturgia Recte Ordinandam Sacred Congregation of Rites, May 4, 1967, 
III, 9. Text in Notitiae, 3 (1967), pp. 169-194, for new rubrics concerning use 
of paten. Also Missale Romanum (igjo), op. cit., pp. 51, 390, 451, 457, 462, 469, 
473, 474. Therefore it must be big enough to accomodate paten, larger than host. 

43 Cfr. Bliley, op. cit., p. 98. On p. 99 Dom Bliley gives examples of va- 
rious portable altar stones ranging in size from 14 inches square (and 2 inches 
thick !) to 12 x 12 inches (30 cm. x 30 cm.) but the present writer has seen a 
petra sacra measuring 5 inches square (12.5 cm. x 12.5 cm.). 

44 Although the above mentioned authors, p. 191, do not mention this as 
a reason. 

45 The Latin Rite antimensia distributed on request by the Vicariate of 
Rome, at the time of this writing, May 1968, measure 12 inches by 12 inches 
(30 cm. x 30 cm.) ; the present writer has in his possession an antimensium la- 
tinum originating from the Vicariate of Rome in 1964 which measures 17 34 
inches by 17 34 inches (44 cm. x 44 cm.), which would seem to be more practical 
than the former. Cfr. below, p. 313. 

46 Cfr. above, p. 175 ff. 

47 Cfr. Ting Pong Lee, op. cit., p. 141. However, cfr. below, pp. 225-228. 

14 - J. M. Izzo - The Antimension 


sacra, Father Ignatius Ting Pong Lee opines that "Even though this is 
nowhere expressly mentioned, it is appropriate to follow the same disci- 
pline as prescribed for stone altars." 48 We will have occasion to use this 
principle as a supplementary source of law, following the dictum of 
canon 20 of the CIC concerning analogy of law : 

"Canon 20. If there is no explicit provision concerning some 
matter in either the general or the particular law, a norm of 
action is to be taken from laws given in similar cases, from the 
general principals of law applied with equity proper to Canon 
Law, from the manner and practice of the Roman Curia, and 
from the common and constant teaching of approved authors/' 49 

We may distinguish two elements apropos the Relics required for 
the antimension : 1) the qualities of the Relics themselves, and 2) the 
formalities to be observed in their inclusion in the antimension (authenti- 
cation, etc.). 

1. In regard to the qualities of the Relics, these portions must be from 
the bodies of canonized Saints and not merely of Blesseds, because the texts 
of the Pontifical, Ritual and other sources concerning the antimensium refer 
only to Relics of Saints, 50 and furthermore, this is the practice of the 
Latin Church with regard to fixed consecrated altars and portable altar 
stones. 51 These Saints must be Martyrs ; this is not always mentioned 
in the faculties describing the antimensium, 52 but it is required by the 

48 Ibidem ; cfr. also Belluco, Novissimae Ordinariorum Locorum Facili- 
tates, op. cit., p. 85 ; Buijs, Facultates Ordinariorum et Legatorum, etc., op. cit., 
p. 51 ; Buijs, Facultates Religiosorum, op. cit., p. 48. 

49 Can. 20. "Si certa de re desit expressum praescriptum legis sive generalis 
sive particularis, norma sumenda est, nisi agatur de poenis applicandis, a legibus 
latis in similibus ; a generalibus iuris principiis cum aequitate canonica servatis ; 
a stylo et praxi Curiae Romanae ; a communi constantique sententia doctorum." 
English translation from Cicognani, op. cit., p. 622 ; for interpretation of this 
canon, cfr. ibidem, pp. 622-627. 

50 Pontificale Romanum, loc. cit., "Pontifex, postquam aliquas authenticas 
reliquias sanctorum Martyrum recognoverit, eas in parvo quodam sacculo in- 
cludit, quod in angulo dextero lintei benedicendi assuatur ; deinde linteum be- 
nedicit, stans cum rochetto et stola alba, sine mitra dicens" : Rituale Romanum, 
tit. IX, cap. IX, n. 21 (text of rubric same as in Pontifidale Romanum) ; the 
texts of faculties cited above, pp. 169-171, 176, 179, 180 ; below, pp. 212, 217, 219. 

61 Cfr. Bliley, op. cit., pp. 83, 105. 

62 Cfr. the texts of the faculties cited above, pp. 284, 286, 287 and below, 
PP- 349. 352. The relative faculty of Pastorale Munus specifies the relics of 
Martyr Saints : cfr. above, p. 180. 1 


rubrics of the Pontificate Romanum 63 and the Rituale Romanum 64 and 
by the commentators. 55 However, Relics of other Saints who are not 
classified as Martyrs may be added to the Relics of the Martyrs. 66 Using 
analogy with the Latin Church's discipline regarding stone altars, Father 
Ting Pong Lee distinguishes, in regard to the antimensium latinutn : 
"For validity a Relic of one Martyr suffices, or of one Martyr together 
with the Relics of Saints who are not Martyrs ; for liceity, however it is 
required that the Relics be of at least two Martyrs." 57 These Relics must 
be primary Relics (or so-called First Class Relics), i.e. portions of the actual 
bodies 58 of the Holy Martyrs ; secondary relics, that is clothing or ob- 
jects used by the Martyrs, or objects touched to their bodies, do not 
suffice. 69 

2. Regarding the formalities required, the Relics must be authentic 
(doubtfully authentic Relics may not be used) 60 and recognized as such 
by the Bishop or Local Ordinary who blesses the antimensium ; if a 
Priest has been delegated 61 to bless the antimensium, he must use Relics 
authenticated by an ecclesiastic competent to do so. 62 Father Ting 
Pong Lee analyzes the formalities : 

63 Cfr. above, p. 194, note 50. 

54 Ibidem. 

55 Cfr. Belluco, Novissimae Ordinariorum Locorum Facultates, op. ext., 
p. 85 ; Buijs, Facultates Ordinariorum et Legatorum, etc., op. cit., pp. 50-51 ; 
Buijs, Facultates Religiosorum, op. cit., p. 48 ; Guiterrez, op. cit., p. 298 ; Na- 
buco, op. cit., p. 563 ; Paventi, Breviarium Iuris Missionalis, op. cit., p. 33 ; 
Ting Pong Lee, loc. cit. 

56 Cfr. Guiterrez, loc. cit. ; Ting Pong Lee, loc. cit. 

67 Ting Pong Lee, loc. cit. ; cfr. also Bliley, op. cit., p. 84. 

58 Although they do not mention their reason, Belluco, loc. cit., and Buijs, 
loc. cit., specify that these Relics be from the bones of the Martyrs ("ex ossibus"); 
However, any fragments of the body of the Martyr will suffice, but not the hair. 
Cfr. Nabuco, op. cit., p. 430. 

59 Cfr. Bliley, loc. cit. ; he also notes, ibidem, p. 83 that "one or more 
relics of the same saint do not suffice". 

60 Cfr. Bliley, op. cit., p. 85 ; Ting Pong Lee, loc. cit. 

61 Cfr. below, p. 198 ff. 

62 According to canon 1283 of the CIC, Cardinals of the Holy Roman 
Church, Local Ordinaries, and ecclesiastics to whom the special faculty to do so 
has been given by the Holy See, are competent authenticate Relics. According 
to a reply of the Commission for the Authentic Interpretation of the Code of 
Canon Law, July 17, 1933, (as in AAS 25 (1933) 345 ! C.L. Digest, I, p. 603 ad 


"Indeed, we may distinguish two separate acts in the authen- 
tication of the Relics : i) the judgement elicited and formed 
regarding the authenticity of the Relics, taking into account 
all the circumstances (the provenance of the Relics, whether 
the annexed documents are credible, whether the wax seal 
remains intact, whether the reliquary is unopened, etc.) ; 2) the 
externalizing, in a public fashion, of this internal judgement, 
by means of an authentic documents, after having closed and 
sealed the reliquary. The ascertainment of the authenticity of 
the Relics is the first act to be accomplished, and, unless I err, 
this is to be done always by the Bishop who blesses the anti- 
mensium, or altar, in the same process of inserting the Relics, 
without it being necessary to perform the second act (authen- 
tication by document and/or seal) if this has already been 
accomplished by another Ordinary." 63 

3. Once the Relics have been inspected as to authenticity and all 
has been found to be in order, they are separately wrapped in paper or 
parchment with their names 64 distinctly indicated 65 and, according to 
the rubrics of the Liturgical books, placed in a small sack or pouch at- 
tached to the right hand corner 66 of the antimension. The antimensium 
is now ready to be blessed. 

can. 1283) the Vicar General is not competent to authenticate Relics unless he 
has a special mandate to do so from the Local Ordinary. 

63 Ting Pong Lee, loc. cit., "Sane, duplex distingui potest actus in Reli- 
quiarum authentications : 1) iudicium sibi efformare et elicere de authenticitate 
Reliquiarum, perpensis omnibus circumstantiis et adiunctis (unde venerunt, an 
documenta fide digna sint, an sigilla integra maneant, an theca inviolata, etc.) ; 
2) hoc iudicium externe patefacere modo publico, per instrumentum authenticum, 
postquam theca clausa et sigillo obsignata sit. Reliquias authentice recognoscere 
est primum actum Complere et, ni fallor, semper ab Episcopo qui linteum, vel 
altare, benedicit compleri debet in ipso actu repositionis, quin necessario actum 
secundum adimplere debeat si iam ab alio Ordinario factus fuerit." 

64 If Relics are certainly authentic, and of Martyrs, they may be used for 
the antimensium, even if the exact names of the Saints to whom they pertain are 
unknown : cfr. Bliley, op. cit., p. 85. 

65 Cfr. Nabuco, loc. cit. 

66 Cfr. above, p. 194, note 50. Ting Pong Lee, op. cit., p. 142, notes that 
the specification of the right hand corner of the antimensium has no importance 
as it depends upon which way the antimensium is turned. The sack containing 
the relics must be firmly fastened or sewn to the antimentium but in such a 
fashion that they may be removed for washing the antimensium latinum. In fact, 
the antimensium has 2 right hand corners - Upper right hand corner and Lower 
right hand corner. 



In reviewing the history of the antimensium latinum, we have 
noted that the first form of the antimensium, as granted to the Mexican 
Ordinaries 1 was a blessed cloth without Relics, and that subsequently 
the form granted to the military chaplains 2 during the Second World 
War was a "veil with Relics" but that nothing was required as to blessing. 
Authors 3 opined that the obligatory blessing of the first, and the fitting 
though not prescribed blessing of the second, were best fulfilled using 
the common blessing for the corporal or altar cloths found in the Rituale 
Romanum. 4 

Today there can be no doubt as to the necessity for the blessing 
of the antimensium, for Canon 525 of the Codex Rubricarum, 5 promul- 
gated July 26, i960, requires that the antimensium be properly blessed. 

1 Cfr. above, p. 175 ff. 

2 Cfr. above, p. 169 ff. 

3 Cfr. Ayala L6pez, op. cii., p. 244 : "Obtenida la facultad, no se serialba 
bebendicion determinada liturgica. Pero entiendo que en tal caso era de apli- 
cacion la consignada en el Ritual Romano, tit. VIII, cap. 21, Benedictio mappa- 
rum seu tobalearum altaris ; o cap. 22, Benedictio pallae et corporalis." Pa- 
venti, "Quaestiones de lure Missionali", op. cit., p. 250, is of the same opinion, 
in regard to the antimensium used by military chaplains in the Second World War. 

4 Cfr. above, p. 176, note 3. For an official translation of these prayers into 
English, cfr. Collectio Rituum (ed. W T alter J. Scmitz), Milwaukee : The Bruce 
Publishing Co., 1964, pp. 549-551 ; Phillip T. Weller, The Roman Ritual 
(complete edition), Milwaukee : The Bruce Publishing Co., 1964, pp. 539-54 1 - 
The Collectio Rituum contains the blessings as they were at the time that Ayala 
Lopez and Paventi wrote ; The Roman Ritual contains the blessings with the 
revisions which were made in 1962. For a discussion of these blessings, cfr. 
Sadlowski, op. cit., pp. 63-74, and passim. 

5 For text, cfr. above, p. 185. 


As to the form and text of the blessing, this had already been stabilized 
by the Sacred Congregation of Rites 6 on March 12, 1947. 

I. Minister of the Blessing 

In the Rituale Romanum, there are contained the texts of certain 
consecrations and bessings which are classified as reserved, that is, they 
may be lawfully performed only by the Roman Pontiff, a Bishop, or a 
specially authorized Priest. 7 

Consecrations may be performed validly only by a Bishop or a 
Priest enjoying a special indult to do so; 8 reserved blessings when im- 
parted by an unauthorized Priest are always valid, unless this is speci- 
fically denied by the Holy See in the act of reserving the blessing, but 
he acts unlawfully. 9 

1. There were a great number of blessings classified as reserved in 
the Roman Ritual, but, with certain exceptions, most of these reserva- 
tions were removed by article 77 of the Instruction for the Proper Imple- 
mentation of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy 10 issued by the Sacred 
Congregation of Rites on September 26, 1964 ; the blessing of the Latin 
antimensium is one of the exceptions and remains a reserved blessing: 

6 Cfr. C.L. Digest, III, pp. 362-363, IV, pp. 267-268 ; Weller, op. ext., 
P- 533- 

7 Cfr. John Linus Paschang, The Sacramentals According to the Code of 
Canon Law, Washington, D.C. : The Catholic University of America Press, 1925, 
pp. 56-65 ; Eduardus F. Regatillo, Ius Sacramentatium (4th ed.), Santander : 
Editorial "Sal Terrae", 1964, p. 946 ; Weller, op. cit., 393~394- 

8 Cfr. Can. 1147 of CIC : "Can. 1147. § 1. Consecrationes nemo qui cha- 
ractere episcopali careat, valide peragere potest, nisi vel iure vel apostolico in- 
dulto id ei permittatur. 

"§ 2. Benedictiones autem impetire potest quilibet presbyter, exceptis iis 
qui Romano Pontifici aut Episcopis aliisve reserventur. 

"§ 3. Benedictio reservata quae a presbytero detur sine necessaria licentia; 
illicita est, sed valida, nisi in reservatione Sedes Apostolica aliud expresserit. 

"§ 4. Diaconi et lectores illas tantum valida et licite benedictiones dare 
possunt, quae ipsis expresse a iure permittuntur." 

9 Cfr. Can. 1147, § 3, as in preceding note. 

10 For full text and commentary, cfr. C. Braga, Instructio ad Exsecutio- 
nem Constitutions De Sacra Liturgia Recte Ordinandam, Cum Commentario , 
Rome : Edizioni Liturgiche, 1964 ; this edition is an exerpt from Ephermerides 
Liturgicae, vol. 78 (1964), 421-518. 


"77- Blessings which have been reserved up to the present 
time and which are contained in the Roman Ritual, tit. IX, 
cap. 9, 10, 11, may be given by any Priest, with the exception 
of the blessing of a bell for the use of a blessed church or oratory 
(cap. 9, n. 11), the blessing of the first stone for the building of 
a church (cap. 9, n. 16), the blessing of a new church or public 
oratory (cap. 9, n. 17), the blessing of an antimension (cap. 9, 
n. 21), the blessing of a new cemetery (cap. 9, n. 22), the papal 
blessings (cap. 10, n. 1-3), and the blessing and erection of 
the stations of the Way of the Cross (cap. 11, n. 1) inasmuch 
as this is reserved to the Bishop." 11 

2. Even before this Instruction was issued, it was certain that the 
sanctification of an antimensium latinum partook of the nature of a blessing, 
and was not a consecration ; this was known from a) the fact that there 
was no unction with Sacred Chrism or other Holy Oil ; 12 b) in the new 
Pontificate Romanum, the words "sanctificare et consecrare" were deleted 
from the original text of the blessing, leaving only the word "benedicere ;" 13 
the title of the text of the ceremony begins with the word "Benedic- 
tio 14 and finally the opinions of eminent authors 15 who held that this 
ceremony was a blessing and not a consecration. The importance of this 
point is the fact that the blessing of the Latin antimensium will always 
be valid, unless a special disposition in this regard is made by the Holy 
See, as long as the special liturgical ceremony prescribed in the Liturgical 
books is followed, 16 even though the minister of this blessing is a Priest 

11 "77. Benedictiones usque adhuc reservatae, quae in Rituali Romano 
tit. IX, cap. 9, 10 et 11 continentur, ab omni sacerdote impertiri possunt, ex- 
ceptis benedictionibus campanae ad usum ecclesiae benedictae vel oratorii (cap. 9, 
n. 11), primarii lapidis pro ecclesia aedificanda (cap. 9, n. 16), novae ecclesiae 
seu oratorii publici (cap. 9, n. 22) et exceptis benedictionibus papalibus (cap. 10, 
nn. 1-3), necnon benedictione et erectione stationum Viae Crucis, (cap. II, n. 1) 
utpote Episcopo reservata." For commentary, cfr. Braga, op. ext., pp. 489-490. 

12 Cfr. A. Betta, "De concessione antimensii missionariis latinis", Ephe- 
merides Liturgicae, vol. 62 (1948), part II, p. 384 : "Est oratio deprecative et 
quamvis adhibeatur verbum consecrare, tamen nulla fit consecratio seu unction"; 
Ting Pong Lee, op. cit., p. 345. 

13 According to the principal used in the reformation of the Pontifical and 
Ritual of omitting these words when there was no unction with Sacred Oil, 
especially Chrism, prescribed. Cfr. Nabuco, op. cit., p. 563. 

14 Cfr. Pontificate Romanum, loc. cit. ; Rituale Romanum, loc. cit. 

15 Cfr. Betta, loc. cit. ; Montague, loc. cit. ; Ting Pong Lee, loc. cit. 

16 Cfr. Canon 1148 of CIC : "Can. 1148. " 1. In Sacramentalibus confi- 
ciendis seu administrandis accurate serventur ritus ab Ecclesia probati. 


who has not been properly authorized. Thus an antimensium blessed 
by an aunauthorized Priest through ignorance of the discipline in regard 
to the reservation of same, or by one who disregards the same, 17 or in 
case of necessity, is validly blessed and may be used by anyone enjoying 
the faculty to do so for the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. 18 
If it is certain that the proper ceremony has been followed, there should 
never be any reason, on account of the lack of permission of the original 
minister of the blessing, to re-bless the antimensium latinum either ab- 
solutely or using a conditional intention. 

3. Having established that fact, we now turn to the lawful minister 
of the blessing. It is certain from the words of faculty 9 of part I of the 
Motu Proprio Pastorale Munus 19 that any Bishop whatsoever may law- 
fully bless a Latin antimensium. He need not be a Local Ordinary and 
may perform this blessing in any territory whatsoever. 20 Since this 
blessing is one of the ones reserved in the Rituale Romanum to Bishops 

"§ 2. Consecrationes ac benedictiones sive constituivae sive invocativae 
invalidae sunt, si adhibita non fuerit formula ab Ecclesia praescripta." For 
commentary on this canon, cfr. Paschang, op. ext., pp. 66-69 i Regatillo, 
op. cit., p. 947. 

17 In regard to the gravity of the obligation of not bestowing a reserved 
blessing without the required permission, unless there are especially aggravating 
extrinsic circumstances, the obligation to abstain from this action is not a serious 
one ; cfr. Iorio, op. cit., Ill, no. 43, p. 26. Since the blessing of the antimensium 
without permission is always valid, it seems that there would not be required a 
very grave reason to act without the delegation of the competent Superior, cir- 
cumstances warranting this action for the good of the Priest and/or the faithful. 
We may remark here that lawfulness concerns the morality of a human action 
and hence regards the person who performs the blessing and not the object itself; 
an antimensium blessed without the proper permission is simply a blessed anti- 
mensium without any stigma of unlawfulness attached to it and may be used 
freely by those authorized to do so. 

18 As for example a missionary Priest who cannot have recourse to the 
competent Superior who must celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for the 
faithful would do better to take a linen corporal, insert authentic Relics, and 
bless this makeshift antimensium latinum rather than celebrate without any 
altar at all contrary to the tradition of the Church and the prescriptions of Canon 
Law and the Liturgical Books (cfr. especially Codex Rubricarum, n. 525, which 
specifies at least a blessed antimensium, if no consecrated fixed or portable altar 
stone is to be had; text above, p. 207. Per modum actus, cfr. below pp. 225-228. 

19 For text, cfr. below, p. 212. 

20 Cfr. Belluco, Novissimae Ordinariorum Locorum Facultates, op. cit., 
p. 85 ; also Paventi, Breviarium Iuris Missionalis, op. cit., p. 33. 


and to Local Ordinaries, 21 it follows that any Local Ordinary, even if 
he is a Priest and not a Bishop, may lawfully confer the blessing of an 
antimensium latinum. Furthermore, according to No. 42 of the 1961 - 
1970 Decennial Faculties 22 granted by the Sacred Congregation for th • 
Propagation of the Faith to the Ordinaries of the territories under its 
jurisdiction, these same ordinaries may grant, in case of necessity, to 
at least a few Priests in their territories the faculty to lawfully bless 
Latin antimensia. 23 

II. Preparations necessary for the Blessing of Antimensium 

Unlike its Byzantine counterpart, it is nowhere required that ihi 
Latin antimensium be placed on a consecrated fixed altar to be blessed ; 
it may be blessed in any suitable place and on any decent table or surface. 24 

21 Rituale Romanum (1952 edition), titulus IX, caput IX "BEXEDIC- 
antimensium is n. 21 under this title. 

22 "42. Conferendi uni alterive i.e. paucis ex sacerdotibus in casu neces- 
sitatis facultatem consecrandi, iuxta formam in Pontificali Romano praescriptam, 
calices, patenas et, iuxta formulam breviorem, altarium lapides, adhibitis tamen 
oleis ab Episcopo benedicitas. 

"Pariter conferendi facultatem benedicendi linteum secundum formulam 
specialem in Rituali Romano contentam." For English translation, cfr. C.L. 
Digest, V, pp. 181-182, where Father Bouscaren also makes the remark, in 
note 5, p. 182 : "In the context, the Latin term linteum cannot mean anything 
else than the antimensium." For detailed interpretation, cfr. Ting Pong Lee, 
op. cit., pp. 344-346. 

23 Father Hermes Peeters ofm., op. cit., p. 115, opines of this faculty : "Haec 
benedictio Ordinarius omnibus sacerdotibus concedere potest ;" Father Buijs, 
Facultates Ordinariorum et Legatorum, etc., p. 160, restricts it to a few priests 
and within the territory of the Ordinary : "Potestas benedicendi linteum dari 
potest paucis sacerdotibus et tantum in casu necessitatis : dicitur enim in facul- 
tate 'pariter.' Sanctorum reliquiae debent esse recognitae ab aliquo Ordinario 
loci. In casu necessitatis etiam Vicarius Generalis aut Vicarius delegatus linteum 
benedicere potest. Benedictio fieri debet intra territorium Ordinarii facultatem 
concedenti ;" Father Ignatius Ting Pong Lee, loc. cit. explains that Vicar 
Apostolics can bestow this blessing always and everywhere, Prefects Apostolic, 
Superiors of Missions "sui iuris," Vicars General and Vicars Delegate only within 
their territories and during their tenure of office. Since "pariter" is meant only 
as a connective, this permission may be given to many Priests and needs no 
serious cause for its exercise : antimensia may be blessed and kept on hand 
ready for eventual necessity. 

24 Cfr. Nabuco, loc. cit. 


The antimensia to be blessed are prepared with a small pouch in 
the right-hand corner 25 ready to receive the authenticated Relics ; 26 the 
Relics have been individually folded in parchment or paper or other 
suitable material with the name of the Martyr to whom they pertain 
clearly inscribed 27 ready to be inspected and inserted into the antimensia. 

On a suitable table bearing two lighted candles, 28 are placed the 
prepared antimensia, Relics, a vessel of ordinary Holy Water 29 and 
sprinkler, and the text of the blessing. 

The Minister of the benediction vests as usual in surplice and white 
stole ; if he is a Bishop he does not wear the miter. 30 

k5 Cfr. text of blessing below, Appendix I, p. 302. Also Nabuco, loc. cit. ; 
as we have noted above, p. 196, note 66. Ting Pong Lee attributes scarce im- 
portance to this rubric. 

26 The Relics may have already been authenticated and sealed. The Vi- 
cariate of Rome, at the time of this writing, May 1968, leaves the confection of 
the antimensium and the authentication, wrapping, sealing, and insertion of the 
relics to the cloistered Augustinian Nuns of the Monastery of Santa Lucia, Via 
in Selci 82, Rome ; the particles of Relics are folded separately in pieces of or- 
dinary paper, the names of the Martyrs to whom they pertain are written on the 
folded paper, and the paper packets (measuring when folded about 1/2 x 3/4 
inch - 0.7 cm. x 2 cm.) are then sealed with sealing-wax bearing the imprint 
of the coat of arms of the Cardinal Vicar of Rome. These packets are then sewn 
into a pouch made by adding a small triangle of cloth (hypotenuse 2 inches, (5 cm.) 
long) to one corner of the cloth. One of the legs of the triangle thus formed is 
hemmed and then only sewn loosely on one side in order that the stitches may 
easily be cut to remove the Relics for washing antimensium latinum without 
destroying the pouch. Cfr. photograph, Appendix II, p. 313. 

27 The names of the Saints whose relics have been enclosed in the anti- 
mensium are to be mentioned in the prayer of blessing. 

28 Nabuco, loc. cit. ; this fitting out of respect to the Relics, but not 

29 I.e. not the special type of Holy Water called "Gregorian Water" used 
in the consecration of fixed and portable stone altars ; here the common type 
of Holy Water blessed with the formula of the Ritual Romanum, titulus IX, ca- 
put II "Ordo ad faciendam aquam benedictam," is contemplated. If this blessing 
is to be performed before the Assembly of the Faithful, for greater solemnity 
the water could be blessed as a preliminary to ceremony of blessing the anti- 

30 Cfr. the rubric preliminary to the text of the blessing in the Pontificate 
Romanum, pars II (emendata 1961), pp. no— ill. 


III. The Ceremony of Blessing of Antimensium 

1. Father Montague remarks apropos the rite for the blessing of 
the Latin antimensium that "it bears no resemblance to the ceremony 
of the consecration of an altar stone. " 31 This is true, for the blessing 
of the antimensium is much shorter and simpler, using only one prayer 
with the sprinkling of Holy Water, and there are no unctions with Sacred 
Chrism as in the Latin rite consecration of fixed or portable altars, or a - 
in the consecration of the Byzantine Antimension. 32 

2. However the prayer used, which begins "Maiestatem tuam, - 
mine," was one of the principal prayers formerly used, from at leas: 
the XII century 33 until the revised Pontificate Romanum of 1961, 34 for 
the consecration of fixed stone altars in the Latin Rite. 

3. The minister of the blessing inserts the Relics into the pouches 
prepared for them in the antimensia and closes these ; then, standing, 
he initiates the prayers with "Adjutorium Nostrum" and "Dominus 
vobiscum" with their responses, says "Oremus" and then the prayer of 
blessing, "Maiestatem tuam, Domine." He makes the Sign of the Cross 
over the antimensia at the word "benedicere" 35 and inserts the names 
of the Martyrs (and other Saints, if added) whose Relics have been placed 
in the antimensia into the appropriate place in the prayer. After the 
prayer and its Amen, he sprinkles the antimensia with Holy Water. 

31 G. Montague, "Use of the Antimension," Irish Ecclesiastical Record 
(5th series), 73 (1950). P- 456. 

32 Cfr. Betta, loc. cit. 

33 Cfr. Michel Andrieu, Le Pontifical Romain au Moyen-Age (4 vols.), 
Citta del Vaticano (Rome) : Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Studi e Tesi, nos. 
86, 87, 88 & 89), 1938, 1940, 1940, 1941, vol. I, pp. 85, 191 ; vol. II, p. 437 : 
vol. Ill, p. 493 ; vol. IV (Indices), p. 64. 

34 The former Pontificate Romanum carried this prayer as the conclusion 
of the consecratory preface ; the newly revised Pontificate Romanum retains the 
consecratory preface but omits the prayer "Maiestatem tuam Domine" in the 
consecration of fixed and portable stone altars. Cfr. Pontificate Romanum, pars 
secunda, Rome : Typis Rev. Camerae Apostolicae Apud Salviuccios, 1S4S Do 
Consecratione Altaris, p. 114; De Consecratione Altaris, quae fit sine Ecclesiae 
dedicatione, p. 158. Pontificate Romanum, pars secunda (editio typica emen- 
data), Rome : Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis, 1961 : Ordo ad ecclesiam dedicandam 
et consecrandam, p. 42 ; Ordo ad altare consecrandum sine ecclesiae dedicatione, 
p. 71 ; Ordo ad altare portatile consecrandum, p. 84. 

35 The Pontificate Romanum of 1961, p. no, omits the words "sanctiticare, 


4. According to canon 1148, § 2, the blessing would be invalid if 
the formula prescribed were not used. 36 Father Edward Regatillo doubts 
that the sprinkling with Holy Water is necessary for the validity of the 
blessing of sacramentals, but he admits that the common teaching of 
canonical authors is that this sprinkling, where required by the text, is 
essential for validity. 37 The wearing of surplice and stole are not ne- 
cessary for the validity of the blessing because they do not pertain to the 
formula prescribed. 38 

IV. Loss of Blessing of Antimensium 

According to canon 1305, § 1 of the CIC, 39 sacred furnishings lose 
their blessing in any one of three ways : a) if they undergo such damage 
or change that they lose their original form and are no longer fit for and 
suitable for the purpose for which they were intended ; b) if they are 

consecrare" found in the formula of the 1952 Rituale Romanum, titulus IX, 
caput IX, n. 21, for the blessing of the antimensium ; this is in accordance with 
the principle used in the revision of the Liturgical books according to which these 
words are deleted when the ceremony is not a consecration, but rather a blessing 
entailing no unction with Sacred Oil (especially Chrism). Nabuco, loc. cit., says 
that these words are to be omitted if the Rituale Romanum is used for the text 
of the blessing ; this does not seem to be necessary, for the present (1952) Ri- 
tuale Romanum does not become obsolete until a new revised edition is published, 
which has not as yet been done. In any case, it is of no great moment. 

36 For text of can. 1148, § 2, cfr. above, pp. 199-200, note 16. 

37 Regatillo, op. cit., p. 947 : "Aspersio aquae bendictae in benedictio- 
nibus quandoque preascribitur, alias non. Si praescribitur communiter docent 
doctores earn requiri ad valorem. Hoc tamen mihi dubium est, non enim videtur 
stricte pertinere ad formulam, quae intelligitur verba. Praeterea, Rituale post 
singulas benedictiones addit : 'Deinde aspergatur aqua benedicta ;' quasi diceret: 
'iam est facta benedictio, sed ad complementum seu integritatem eiusdem asper- 
gatur ;' " 

38 Ibidem. 

39 "Can. 1305. § 1. Sacra supplex benedicta aut consecrata benedictionem 
aut consecrationem amittit : 

Si tales laesiones vel mutationes subierit ut pristinam amiserit for- 
mam, et aim ad suos usus non habeatur idonea ; 

"2 . Si ad usus indecoros adhibita vel publicae venditioni exposita fuerit." 
For a detailed explanation of this canon, cfr. Paschang, op. cit. pp. 84-85 ; 
Sadlowski, op. cit., pp. 72-74. 


used for unbecoming purposes ; 40 c) if they are exposed for public sale. 41 
The latter two instances, b) and c), are rather uncommon. 

In a private reply, 42 the Sacred Congregation of Rites described 
its present practice and norms of action : 

"The antimensium Latinum loses its function finally when, 
according to the common estimation, it is rendered 'inser- 
viceable,' as for example if it has many rents and cannot any 
longer be fittingly repaired : in such a case ; it is obvious that 
the obligation remains to salvage the Relics." 43 

and in regard to the repairing of an antimensium, the same document 
states, "In the case where the antimensium becomes only partially torn, 
it may be mended by any person whatsoever." 44 Thus, it would be wiser 
to entrust the mending of the antimension to skilled feminine hands, 
rather than have an inexperienced cleric attempt this process himself. 

Furthermore, the Sacred Congregation states that the Latin anti- 
mensium may be washed : 

"The antimensium latinum, without any recourse to the 
Bishop, may be washed, after the Relics are first removed, and 
then subsequently re-sewn (re-fastened) to the antimensium." 45 

40 Cfr. Sadlowski, op. cit., p. 73 where he says : "The mere profane use 
of a sacred furnishing, although illicit, would not however entail execration. 
The purpose that is served must be something unbecoming or sordid..." 

41 Sadlowski, op. cit., p. 74, makes a distinction between public and pri- 
vate sale, opining that private sale of a sacred furnishing does not entail its 

42 October 20, 1967, Protocol Number 0.82/967. Cfr. below Appendix I, 
P- 303, where the present author, because of paucity of legislation in regard to the 
antimensium latinum asked the Sacred Congregation of Rites for clarification of 
some moot points. 

43 "4 . Lo stesso Antimensio cessa infine la sua funzione, allorche, se- 
condo la comune estimazione, si rendera 'inservibile' : a causa per esempio di 
lacerazioni multiple e non piu decorosamente riparabili : in tal caso e ovvio che 
rimanga l'obbligo del recupero delle reliquie." 

44 "^o Nel caso di lacerazione parziale, pud essere da chiunque ram- 

45 " 2 o_ 11 detto Antimensio, senza far ricorso al Vescovo, pu6 essere la- 
vato : dopo averne tolto le reliquie, che vi verranno poi ricucite." Cfr. also Na- 
buco, op. cit., p. 563. 



Regarding the Latin Rite antimensium, we may distinguish in 
the discipline concerning its use two elements : a) the material element, 
or the legislation concerning how the antimensium is to be used and where; 
b) the personal element, or the active and passive subjects and conditions 
of use, i.e. who may grant permission to use the antimensium latinum, to 
whom, and the circumstances in which this permission may be lawfully 

I. Material Element (How Used) 

i. In the section entitled "Concerning the Preparation of the Altar 
for Mass" in the Codex Rubricarum, 1 we find the following canon : 

"526. The altar is to be covered with three altar cloths, 
properly blessed, of which one is long enough so that it reaches 
to the floor." 2 

and the 1970 Missale Romanum now prescribes at least one altar cloth : 

"260. Out of respect for the celebration of the Lord's memo- 
rial and the banquet in which the Body and Blood of the Lord 
are given, there should be at least one cloth on the altar. Its 
shape, size, and adornment should be in keeping with the struc- 
ture of the altar." 23 

1 "Pars tertia, XI. De praeparatione altaris ad Missam." (AAS 52 (i960), 
p' 685). 

2 "526. Altare cooperiatur tribus tobaleis, rite benedictis, quarum una 
ita oblonga sit ut, as latera, usque ad terram pertingat." Ibidem. 

Official English translation from The Roman Missal : the Sacramentary, 
Collegeville, Minnesota : The Liturgical Press, 1970. P- 4°- Original text from 


and the latest revisions of the liturgical books still require a corporal. 3 
There can be no doubt, therefore, that the liturgical discipline 4 of the 
Latin church requires on all altars for the celebration of the Holy Sa- 
crifice of the Mass at least one altar cloth and a corporal. The blessing 
of these furnishings is no longer reserved 5 and may be performed by 
any Priest. 

The Latin Rite antimensium, although imitating in concept and 
external form the essentials of its Byzantine antecedent, is meant to 
replace only the altar stone (petra sacra) itself, is not conceived of as a 
fully equipped altar or even church in miniature, as is the Greek anti- 
mension, 6 and therefore must always, in ordinary circumstances and 
according to present discipline, be used with the accounterments de- 
scribed above, viz. an altar cloth and a corporal. 7 This is almost always 
expressed in the general 8 or particular 9 indult granting permission 
for the use of the antimensium, by adding the prescription : "All else 
must be observed according to the rubrics, especially as regards the 
altar cloths and corporal." 10 Regatillo considers that there is a grave 
obligation to use at least one altar cloth and a corporal for the celebra- 
tion of the Eucharist ; 11 in any case, the mind of the Church as explicitly 

Missale Romanum (1970), Institute Generalis, V. De Ornatu Altaris, p. 77 : 
"268. Ob reverentiam erga celebrationem memorialis Domini et erga convivium 
in quo Corpus et Sanguis Domini praebentur, super altare saltern una tobale 
ponatur, quae ad formam, mensuram, et ornatum quod attinet cum ipsius altaris 
structura conveniat." 

3 Cfr. below, p. 225, number 260. The use of the corporal is also mentioned 
in the new Missale Romanum {1970) on pp. 39, n. 49; 50, n. 100 ; 51, nn. 102, 
io 3 » 53» n - 120 > 55> n - x 38 ; 63, n. 202 ; 64, nn. 205, 206 ; 66, n. 221, 72, n. 247c ; 
390, nn. 17, 19 ; 391, n. 21 ; 452, n. 92 ; 458, n. 105 ; 462, n. 113 ; 469, n. 121 ; 
481, 11. 13; 482, nn. 14, 16; 486, n. 31. 

4 For a detailed study of these requirements, cfr. Godley, op. cit., pp. 
147-148 ; Sadlowski, op. cit., pp. 104-107, 126-128 and passim. 

5 Cfr. above, p. 198 ff. 

6 Cfr. above, p. 105 ff. 

7 Cfr. Belluco, Novissimae Ordinariorum Locorum Facultates, op. cit, 
p. 86 ; Nabuco, op. cit., p. 563, specifying linen or hemp, altar cloths because 
under certain conditions these may be replaced by other materials and the cor- 
porals may be made from cotton ; cfr. Ting Pong Lee, op. cit., pp. 152-156. 

8 Cfr. below, p. 212 ff. 

9 Cfr. below, p. 222 ff. 

10 "Servatis de cetero servandis iuxta Rubricas, praesertim quoad tobaleas 
et corporale." 

11 Regatillo, op. cit., pp. 106-107, 157 ; the original reason for the mul- 


expressed in the grants of the use of the antimensium is that in the Latin 
Rite it be used with (under) the proper amount of altar cloths and a 
corporal. 12 Father Joachim Nabuco specifies that when the antimensium 
latinum is used, the Relics should be toward the anterior part of the 
mensa ; 13 Father Ignatius Ting Pong Lee directs, and seemingly with 
more logic, that the antimensium be used with the Relics in the upper 
right-hand corner, i.e. towards the posterior part of the table used as 
an altar, lest the small protuberance caused by the thickness of the Relic 
pouch and its contents interfere with the sacred vessels. 14 This protu- 
berance is usually so slight that it is difficult to imagine that under an 
altar cloth and a corporal it would even be noticed, let alone interfere 
with the sacred vessels ; in any case it is of scarce importance. 

2. In regard to the circumstances in which the antimensium is 
used a substitute for the petra sacra, it would be well to keep in mind 
an Instruction regarding private oratories and portable altars etc. issued 
by the Sacred Congregation for the Sacraments on October i, 1949, and 
directed to Local Ordinaries, containing the following directions : 

'711), 7. The place where a portable altar is set up must 
be appropriate and decent, or fitting and honorable, lest be- 
cause of its unworthy and unbecoming character grave injury 
and irreverance redound to the divine mysteries. 

"An appropriate place demands security and space, so that 
the Mass can be offered safely and conveniently without any 
danger of profanation or of the spilling of the Precious Blood 
from the chalice ; a decent place refers to the quality of the place, 
that is, it demands that the Mass be not celebrated in a bedroom 
where someone usually sleeps, nor in any other place unbefitting 
the dignity of so great a Sacrifice. 15 

tiplication of the altar cloths seems to have been to absorb any of the Precious 
Blood accidentally spilled upon the altar. Cfr. Righetti, op. cit., I, pp. 53 2 ~535- 

12 Cfr. Belluco, loc. cit. ; Buijs, Facultates Ordinariorum et Legatorum, 
etc., op. cit., pp. 50, 258 ; Buijs, Facultates Religiosorum, op. cit., p. 48 ; Na- 
cubo, loc. cit. 

13 Nabuco, loc. cit. : "6. In Missae celebratione linteum adhibetur non 
secus ac petra sacra, et ponitur subtus tobaleis, cum reliquiis in parte anteriori 
mensae. Corporale super tobaleas extenditur prout de more." 

14 Ting Pong Lee, op. cit., p. 142. 

15 For an analysis of this disciplinary regulation cfr. Ignatius Ting Pong 
Lee, "Commentarium in Rescriptum Pontificium 'Cum Admotae' - De Missa 
in domo extra locca sacra," Commentarium pro Religiosis et Missionariis, 44 
(1965), p. 65. 

15 - J. M. Izzo - The Antimension 


"Decency also concerns the immediate place, that is, the 
table on which the portable altar is laid, that it be not unclean 
nor devoted to profane uses. 16 

This table must be of sufficient length and breadth to afford 
safe support of the stone, 17 support for the Missal, and proper 
and becoming celebration of the Mass." 18 

3. A final consideration is whether the petra sacra is to be preferred 
over the antimensium latinum when both are available. We have seen 19 
that it is an ancient tradition of the Latin Church, with a very few ex- 
ceptions, to celebrate only on stone altars. For this reason it would 
seem that the petra sacra is to be preferred, all things being equal, to the 
antimensium latinum. Furthermore, the blessed Latin antimensium is 
meant to be a substitute for the solemnly consecrated 20 portable altar 
stone, and a surrogate is not acceptable when the original object for 
which it is a substitute is available. Finally, the general 21 and par- 
ticular 22 indults given for the substitution of the antimensium for the 
portable altar stone presuppose motives of unavailability of the petra 
sacra or real inconvenience in its use. Of the few authors who treat of 
this problem, Father Ignatius Ting Pong Lee, basing his opinion on the 
ancient and venerable tradition of the Latin Church of celebrating only 
on stone altars, believes that there is a serious obligation to use the petra 
sacra when this is available, even if it must be removed from the stable 
altar ("ad modum fixi"), 23 in preference to the Latin antimensium ; on 
the other hand, Father Buijs (quoted verbatim by Father John Zam- 
petti) 24 treating of the 1961-1970 Decennial Faculties for the mis- 
sions, 25 says : 

16 Duffy, op. cit., p. 40 paraphrases the Instruction of 1949 : "To the 
worthiness or 'decentia' pertains also the more immediate place of celebration, 
namely, the table on which the portable altar is supported ; this must be clean, 
sufficiently large to give secure support to the altar-stone and missal, and not 
destined for any kind of improper or irreligious uses." 

17 "Quae tuto valeat lapidem regere." 

18 C.L. Digest, III, p. 331 ; for Latin text cfr. AAS, 41 (1949), pp. 493 ff. 

19 Cfr. above, pp. 18 ff. 

20 Cfr. Martimort, op. cit., p. 661 for superiority of spiritual value of 
consecrations over mere blessings. 

21 Cfr. below, pp. 212-222. 

22 Cfr. below, pp. 222-224. 

23 Cfr. above, pp. 105-148. 

24 John Zampetti, Facilitates Apostolicae, Shillong (India), 1961, pp. 33-34. 

25 Cfr. below, pp. 21 7-1 18. 


"It is required for the use of this faculty 'that no church 
or public oratory is extant' : 26 the use' of this faculty is excluded 
in churches and public oratories ; it is permitted in other places 
only so long as there is a serious reason. The law which pre- 
scribed in the Latin Church that Mass be celebrated only on a 
sacred stone is of venerable antiquity and binds seriously. 
However, in secondary Mission Stations, where Mass is cele- 
brated outside of a sacred place, and where there is no altar 
but instead an ordinary table is used for the celebration of 
Holy Mass, the Latin antimensium is to be preferred over the 
portable altar stone, not only because the former is easier to 
carry and is not subject to the danger of breakage, but also 
because the chalice may be more stably set upon the antimen- 
sion than upon the small petra sacra, whose surface is higher 
than the surface of the table upon which it is used." 27 

Father Buijs' opinion seems to be most reasonable ; thus the or- 
dinary preference of the petra sacra over the antimensium must be con- 
ditioned by the exigencies of the particular situation, keeping in mind, 
however, that these special faculties are not a carte blanche for not 
using the consecrated stone. 

4. We may note that the antimension latinum, whether left extended 
for long periods of time on the table on which it is used or carried folded 
to where it is neeeded, as a sacred object should be protected from the 
danger of being soiled or damaged by rough handling, insects and mildew, 
by being carefully protected by an envelope or burse of plastic or some 
other suitable material. 28 

26 Cfr. below, p. 218. 

27 Buijs, Facultaes Ordinariorum et Legatorum, etc., op. cit., p. 51 : "Re- 
quiritur ad usum facultatis 'ut nulla ecclesia vel nullum oratorium publicum 
existet.' Usus facultatis excluditur in ecclesiis et in oratoriis publicis ; alibi 
permittitur dummodo gravis adsit cause. Lex quae praescribit ut Missa cele- 
bretur in petra sacra in Ecclesia latina venerabilis est antiquitatis et severe ur- 
getur. In stationibus vero secondariis, ubi missa celebretur in loco profano ubi 
altare non adest et Missa litari debet in mensa ordinaria praeferendus est linteus 
benedictus prae petra sacra, non solum quia facilius transportari potest et non 
frangitur sed eitam, quia calix stabilius ponitur super linteum quam super pe- 
tram parvam, cuius superficies est magis elevata quam superficies mensae ip- 
sius," Buijs adds, in his Facilitates Religiosorum, op. cit., p. 49 : "And whose 
edges are hidden by the altar cloths" - "Et cuius limites tobaleis absconduntur." 

28 Cfr. Ting Pong Lee, Facultates Apostolicae, op. cit., p. 140. 


II. Formal Element 

In regard to the personal or formal element of the faculty for the 
use of the Latin Rite antimensium, we must keep clearly in mind the 
distinction between who may grant this permission (the active subject 
of the faculty) and to whom it may be granted (the passive subject 
of the faculty). 

Naturally, the Pope of Rome, as Universal Pastor, may grant the 
faculty to use the antimensium latinum as a substitute for the petra 
sacra to any Bishop or Priest (or to a lay person in order that he may 
have a Priest celebrate the Holy Mass for him) 29 in any place and at 
any time. The Holy Father regularly does this through the various 
Sacred Congregations of the Roman Curia, especially the Sacred Consi- 
storial Congregation (for Ordinaries throughout the world, outside of 
mission territories), the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the 
Faith (for Ordinaries and missionaries in territories subject to it), the 
Sacred Congregation of Religious (for members of Religious Institutes), 
and the Sacred Congregation for the Oriental Churches (for clerics belong- 
ing to one of the Oriental rites). 30 

A. The Motu Proprio Pastorale Munus 

However, on the occasion of the Ecumenical Council Vatican II, 
towards the end of the second session, on November 30, 1963, Pope 
Paul VI himself directly communicated to residential Bishops and certain 
other Ordinaries, by means of his Motu Proprio Pastorale Munus, special 
faculties among which were : 

"(1), 7. To grant to Priests the faculty of celebrating Mass 
upon a consecrated stone, outside of a sacred place, but in a 
place that is becoming and decent, never in a bedroom, for a 
just cause and in individual cases, but habitually only for a 
graver cause." 

"8. Likewise to concede the faculty of celebrating Mass for 
a just cause at sea and on rivers, necessary precautions being 

"9. To grant the faculty to Priests who enjoy the indult of 
the portable altar that, for a just and serious cause, they may 

29 However, this privilege is usually not in practice given to lay persons 
but only to Priests ; cfr. C.L. Digest, III, p. 330. 

30 Cfr. C.L. Digest, III, p. 362 ; Ting Pong Lee, "Cum Admotae etc.", 
op. cit., pp. 67-68. 


use in place of a consecrated stone a Greek antimension or a 
cloth, which has been blessed by a Bishop, and at the righthand 
corner of which there are enclosed the Relics of holy Martyrs, 
likewise examined by the Bishop, all else being observed in 
accordance with the rubrics, especially with regard to altar- 
cloths and corporal." 31 

1. The active subjects of these faculties (No. 9 is the one that 
interests us especially, but the other two are connected with its inter- 
pretation) are declared in the preamble of Pastorale Munus 32 to be : 
all residential Bishops, Vicars Apostolic, Prefects Apostolic, permanently 
constituted Apostolic Administrators, Abbots Nullius and Prelates (Nul- 
lius) ; 33 furthermore, these may delegate these faculties to their Coadjutor 
Bishops, Auxiliary Bishops, and Vicars General. 34 Naturally, they may 
use these faculties also in their own behalf. 35 

2. It is in regard to the passive subject of the faculty, that is, 
those to whom it can be granted, that some doubt arises. Faculty 

31 Cfr. above, pp. 207 ff. 

32 "Ad norraam autem iuris vigentis, huiusmodi facilitates, quas Episco- 
pis residentialibus iure commettere declaramus, competunt etiam iure Vicariis 
et Praefectis Apostolicis, Administratoribus Apostolicis permanenter constitutis, 
Abbatibus et Prelatis nullius, qui omnes in suo territorio iisdem iuribus et fa- 
cultatibus gaudent, quae in propriis dioecesibus competunt Episcopis residen- 
tialibus. Et quamvis Vicarii et Praefecti Apostolici nequeant Vicarium Genera- 
lem constituere, iidem tamen has facultates, de quibus agitur, suo quisque Vi- 
cario Delegato legitime delegare valent." 

33 As of January 22, 1966, the phrase "Nullius dioeceseos" was deleted 
from the titles "Prelatus Nullius dioeceseos" and "Prelatura Nullius dioeceseos". 
Cfr. Annuario Pontificio, 1966, Citta del Vaticano : Tipografia Poliglotta Vati- 
cana, 1966, insert leaflet entitled "Aggiornamento deH'Annunario Pontificio al 
7 febbraio 1966." 

34 "1. Facultates quae iure Episcopo residentiali competunt momento 
canonice captae dioecesis possessionis, quas tamen aliis, praeter quam Episcopis 
Coadiutori et Auxiliaribus atque Vicario Generali, delegare non potest, nisi in 
iisdem expresse dicatur." For a fuller analysis of the active subject of these fa- 
culties, cfr. Belluco, op. cit., pp. 29-33 ! Duffy, op. cit., pp. 77-79 ; Ignatius 
Ting Pong Lee, "In Lit. Apost. Pauli VI Pastorale Munus Motu proprio datas 
excursus doctrinalis" Commentarium pro Religiosis et Missionariis 43 (1964), 
PP- 55-58. 

35 Cfr. Canon 201, § 3 : "Nisi aliud ex rerum natura aut ex iure constet, 
potestatem iurisdictionis voluntariam seu non-iudicialem quis exercere potest 
etiam in proprium commodum, aut extra territorium existens, aut in subditum 
e territorio absentem." 

2I 4 

Number g specifies "Priests who enjoy the faculty of the portable altar;" 36 
there can be no doubt that the faculty can therefore be given to those 
who by law 37 or special indult from the Holy See have the privilege of 
the portable altar. 38 What may we say, however, about those Priests 
to whom has been granted by their Ordinary, according to the provisions 
of Numbers 7 and 8 of Pastorale Munus cited above, the faculty to ce- 
lebrate upon a petra sacra outside of a sacred place ? Fathers Belluco, 39 
Gambari, 40 and Ting Pong Lee 41 hold that the indult of the portable 
altar must be understood as a technical term referring to that privilege 
as granted solely by the Holy See, urging the strictness of the praxis of 
the Dicasteria Romana in this regard. They exclude the possibility of an 
Ordinary granting, by means of the powers granted to him by Pastorale 
Munus, to a Priest under his jurisdiction (and not enjoying the indult of 
the portable altar by either law or Apostolic Indult) the faculty, once 
having granted to this Priest the permission to celebrate outside of a 
sacred place, to substitute for the petra sacra an antimensium latinum. 
Father Buijs thinks differently : 

"The Bishop may concede to all Priests who have the pri- 
vilege of the portable alter, i.e. to those who either by Apostolic 
Indult or by the faculty conceded to them by the Bishop may ce- 
lebrate outside of a sacred place, the permission 'to use in place 
of the petra sacra' an antimensium laatinum..." 42 

36 "...sacerdotibus, indulto altaris portatilis fruentibus..." 

37 I.e. Cardinals, Bishops, Vicars and Prefects Apostolic, Administrators 
Apostolic, and some members of the Roman Curia. Cfr. Belluco, op. cit., pp. 
86-87 ; Buijs, Facilitates Religiosorum, op. cit., pp. 40-41 ; Duffy, op. cit., 

38 Cfr. Belluco, loc. cit. 

39 Belluco, Facilitates Superiorum Religiosorum, op. cit., p. 62 ; Novis- 
simae Ordinariorum Locorum Facilitates, op. cit., pp. 86-87. However, Father 
Belluco does not deny all probability to the opposite opinion. 

40 Ae. Gambari, Facolta Speciali dei Superiori Generali, Milano, 1965, 

P- 39- 

41 Ting Pong Lee, "Cum admotae, etc.," op. cit., pp. 57-59. 

42 Buijs, Facultates Religiosorum, op. cit., p. 48 : "Episcopus concedere 
potest omnibus sacerdotibus qui habent privilegium altaris portatilis, i.e. qui 
sive ex indulto Apostolico sive ex facultate ipsis ab Episcopo concessa celebrare 
possunt Missam extra locum sacrum (cfr. supra n. 7 et 8), licentiam 'adhibendi 
pro petra sacra' linteum benedictum : unde linteum ponendum est super mensa 
ordinaria et super lintea ponendae sunt tobaleae et corporale." (n. 7 et 8 in the 
citation just given refer to faculties number 7 and 8 of the Pastorale Munus, 
part I). 


Father Duffy agrees : 

"Faculty 9 of the Motu Proprio Pastorale Munus gives to 
resident Bishops the power to allow the use of this linen anti- 
mensium (which, it refers to as 'Graecorum antimensium') 43 to 
priests who have an indult to use a portable altar... The indult 
to use the portable altar may be granted either by the Holy 
See or the Bishop since the faculty does not limit the concession 
to priests who have an indult from the Holy See." 44 

and finally, Father Bottoms opines regarding the same matter : 

"There seems to be no reason to restrict this faculty to those 
who have an apostolic indult to use a portable altar ; it may be 
used as well, for example, by those granted the privilege if 
faculty no. 7 above." 45 

Since the authors are so divided in this matter, a merely ecclesi- 
atical law, it would seem to appear that we have a positive doubt of 
law, and in accordance with canon 15 of the CIC, 46 and since the Holy 
See has not issued any authoritative interpretation in this regard, the 
Ordinary contemplated in Pastorale Munus, pending further notice, may 
grant the faculty to substitute the Latin antimensium for the portable 
altar stone to those Priests to whom he has already granted, according to 
No. 7, the permission to celebrate on the petra sacra outside of a sa- 
cred place. 

3. These faculties of Pastorale Munus may be given by the Local 
Ordinary to any religious or diocesan Priest or Bishop residing habitually 
in his diocese and they may use them even outside the limits of the 

43 The Reverend Author is mistaken here, for it is obvious from the pre- 
vious concessions of the antimensium latinum that this is what is meant by 
"linteum, ab episcopo benedictum, etc." and this is the way all the other authors 
interpret it. The word "or" ("vel") here must be thought of as disjunctive, not 
a conjunction introducing an apposition. 

44 Duffy, op. cit., pp. 46-47. 

45 A. M. Bottoms, "A Commentary on the Forty Faculties of Pastorale 
Munus," The Jurist, 246 (1964), p. 431. 

46 "Can. 15. Leges, etiam irritantes et inhabilitantes, in dubio iuris non 
urgent ; in dubio autem facti potest Ordinarius in eis dispensare, dummodo aga- 
tur de legibus in quibus Romanus Pontifex dispensare solet." Cfr. Cicognani, 
op. cit., pp. 586-592. Furthermore, we are here dealing with a merely ecclesiastical 
law, and also the intention of the Holy Father was to give much wider faculties 
to the Bishops. 


diocese of the Ordinary who granted them ; the Local Ordinary may also 
grant these faculties to any visiting or traveling Priests or Bishops for 
use within the confines of the Ordinary's diocese. 47 

4. The use of the faculty by the Priest to whom it has been granted 
requires a just and serious cause. 48 Father Batholomew Belluco, examin- 
ing the previous jurisprudence of the Holy See in this regard, requires 
for such a causa true necessity and great utility ; 49 this would certainly 
obtain when it is impossible or very difficult to find an altar stone or a 
sacred place containing one, and there is much inconvenience in carrying 
about a petra sacra (danger of breakage) or using it (altar table with no 
recess to receive stone and consequent danger of upsetting altar vessels). 

B. The Pontifical Rescript Cum Admotae 

On November 6, 1964, by means of the Pontifical Rescript Cum 
Admotae, 50 in effect, extended some of the same or similar faculties, of 
Pastorale Munus to certain Religious Superiors ; however, although the 
Greek antimension was specifically mentioned, 51 nothing was said about 
the Latin antimensium and Religious Superiors have no special faculties 
in this regard through Cum Admotae. 52 The Religious having need of the 
faculty to substitute the Latin antimensium for the petra sacra must 
request this permission from either the Local Ordinary or, through the 
proper channels (which usually involves the Procurator General of the 
Religious Institute), from the Sacred Congregation of Religious. 53 

47 Cfr. Belluco, Novissimae Ordinariorum Locorum Facilitates, op. ext., 
pp. 33-36, 80-81, 83, 86-87 ! A. Gutierrez, "Episcoporum facultates secundum 
M. Pr. Pastorale Munus et religiosi," Commentarium pro Religiosis et Missionariis, 
43 (1964), pp. 160-165. 

48 "Iusta et gravi de cause ;" for explanation and examples, cfr. Belluco, 
op. cit., pp. 85-86 ; Bottoms, loc. cit. ; Buijs, Facultates Religiosorum, op. cit., 
pp. 48-49 ; Duffy, op. cit., p. 79. 

49 Belluco, loc. cit. 

50 For text, cfr. above, p. 139. 

51 In regard to Oriental rite Religious only. 

52 Cfr. Belluco, Facultates Superiorum Religiosorum, op. cit., p. 62 ; 
Buijs, op. cit., p. 42 ; Duffy, op. cit., p. 47 ; Ting Pong Lee, "Cum Admorae, 
etc.," op. cit., pp. 67-68. Latin Rite Priests who have an Apostolic Indult to 
celebrate also in the Byzantine or other Oriental rite cannot use the Latin or 
Byzantine antimension when celebrating in the Latin Rite (unless they have a 
special indult to do so) ; cfr. Ting Pong Lee, loc. cit. ; above p. 140. 

53 Cfr. C.L. Digest, IV, p. 257; Duffy, loc. cit. 


C. Decennial Faculties of the Sacred Congregation for the propagation of 
the Faith 

For the territories under its jurisdiction, 54 the 1961-1970 Decennial 
Faculties 55 of the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith 
gave to Ordinaries the faculties : 

"5. To grant that for a just reason Mass may be celebrated 
on a portable altar, without a server, in the open air and on 
board ship, provided that, the required precautions having 
been taken, there is no danger of irreverence and the place is 
decent, even though the altar be broken or lack Relics of the 
Saints ; and also that Mass may be begun after midnight. 56 

"6. To permit that Priests substitute for a portable altar or 
altar stone a cloth made of linen or hemp and properly blessed 
in which are placed Relics of the Saints recognized by some 
local Ordinary, on which cloth these same Priests may celebrate 
the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass only in cases where there 
is no church and no public oratory available, observing whatever 
else is to be observed according to the Rubrics, especially as 
regards the altar cloths and corporal." 57 

54 Principally mission territories but also a few other regions ; cfr. An- 
nuario Pontificio ad verb. "S. Congregazione de Propaganda Fide ;" for listing 
of territories under the jurisdiction of S.C.P.F. cfr. Saverio Paventi, La Chiesa 
Missionaria, Rome : Unione Missionaria del Clero in Italia (Tipografia Editrice 
M. Pisani - Isola di Liri), 1950, pp. 147-160 ; Giuseppe Stanghetti, Prassi della 
S.C. di Propaganda Fide, Rome: Officium Libri Catholici, 1943, pp. 111-117. 

55 Cfr. C.L. Digest, V, pp. 176-190. 

56 English translation from C.L. Digest, V, p. 177. This faculty is of in- 
terest here only because the following faculty is accessory and complementary to 
it ; cfr. Ting Pong Lee, Facilitates Apostolicae, op. ext., p. 143. Its Latin text is 
as follows : 

"5. Permittendi ut iusta de causa Missa celebrari possit, super altari por- 
tatili, sine ministrante, sub dio et in navi, dnmmodo, debitis cautelis adhibitis, 
nullum adsit irreverentiae periculum, et locus decens sit, etiamsi altare sit frac- 
tum vel sine Reliquris Sanctorum ; atque ut Missa inchoari queat post mediam 

57 English translation from C.L. Digest, loc. cit. ; the Latin text is as follows: 
6. Permittendi ut sacerdotes substituere possint altari portatili seu petrae 

sacrae aliquod linteum ex lino vel cannabe confectum et rite benedictum, in 
quo conditae sint Sanctorum Reliquiae ab aliquo Ordinario loci recognitae, super 
quo iidem sacerdotes sacrosanctum Missae sacrificium celebrare queant iis tantum 
in casibus in quibus nulla ecclesia vel nullum oratorium publicum exstet, servatis 
de cetero servandis iuxta Rubricas, praesertim quoad tobaleas et corporale 
N.B. Nothing mentioned in regard to the Byzantine antimension. 


1. The active subjects of these faculties are the Residential Bishops, 
Abbots Nullius, Prelates (Nullius), Vicars Apostolic, Prefects Apostolic, 
Superiors of Missions "sui iuris," and the vicars of the preceding, viz. 
the Vicar General in an Abbacy Nullius and in a Prelature (Nullius) and 
the Vicar Delegate in strictly missionary circumscriptions. 58 These may 
also use these faculties for their own benefit. 59 

2. The passive subjects of these faculties, i.e. those Priests to whom 
they may be granted, are all Priests actually within the confines of the 
territory of the Ordinary (including Priests who are just passing through, 
"peregrini") ; outside the confines of the territory of the Ordinary, these 
faculties may be used only by those Priests who come under his jurisdic- 
tion by reason of being incardinated in his diocese or quasi-diocese, or 
because they have domicile in his territory (e.g. Religious having do- 
micile in territory of Ordinary). 60 

3. The conditions under which they may be used are not very 
restricted, there is no mention of the necessity of a just and serious 
cause, transportation difficulties, etc. The only restrictive condition is 
the clause that there be no church or public oratory present in the ter- 
ritory, since these will normally have a consecrated fixed altar or a por- 
table altar stone ; however, if for some reason these altars are lacking or 
unfit for use, it is patent that the missionary may use the antimensium 
latinum within the Church or public oratory. 

These faculties may be interpreted benignly or widely. 61 

58 Cfr. Buijs, Facilitates Ordinariorum et Legatorum, etc., op. cit., pp. 7-13; 
Ting Pong Lee, op. cit., pp. 51-68. 

59 Cfr. Buijs, op. cit., p. 14 ; Ting Pong Lee, op. cit., pp. 61-62 ; and 
above, p. 213, note 35. 

60 Cfr. Buijs, op. cit., pp. 14-15 ; Ting Pong Lee, op. cit., pp. 67-77 
Ayala Lopez, op. cit., p. 247 holds that the missionary using this faculty in the 
territory of an Ordinary other than the one granted it must have at least pre- 
sumed permission of the Ordinary within whose territory he wishes to avail him- 
self of this privilege. 

61 Cfr. Ayala Lopez, op. cit., p. 246 : "Como el asunto tiene la propriedad 
de privilegio praeter jus, el criterio debera ser amplio, ejor que restrictivo, tanto 
en lo referente a la materia como a los sujetos en cuyo favor se ortoga la gracia :" 
Paventi, Breviarium Iuris Missionalis, op. cit., p. 32 : "Rescriptum concessionis 
plures conditiones exigit, quae late interpretari debent." In regard to the rela- 
tion of this faculty (and the following faculty) with that granted by the Motu 
Proprio "Facultates decennalis n. 6 Ordinariis Missionum a S.C. de P.F. con- 
cessa absorbetur in hac facultate n. 8 ex Motu Proprio facultatem celebrandi 


D. Decennial Faculties for Latin America and the Philippine Islands 

On August 8, 1959, the Sacred Consistorial Congregation granted 
to the Local Ordinaries of Latin America and the Philippine Islands 
among the 1959-1969 Decennial Faculties : 62 

"10. Local Ordinaries can grant to Priests who are subject 
to their jurisdiction, where sufficient roads and vehicles are 
lacking, the faculty of substituting, in place of the portable altar 
or sacred stone, a cloth made of linen or hemp and blessed by 
the Bishop, in which are placed Relics of Saints authenticated 
by the same bishop and on which the said Priests can offer the 
holy sacrifice of the Mass, under penalty of sin, only in those 
cases in which there is no church or oratory, public or private, 
and in which it would be very inconvenient to carry an altar 
stone with them on the journey or have one handy. All else 
must be observed according to the rubrics, especially as re- 
gards the altar cloths and corporal." 63 

I. These faculties were more restricted than the similar ones which 
were to be given a year later by the S.C.P.F. and of which we have just 
treated above, 64 in that they could not be used when there was extant 

super linteum benedictum hac facilitate uti possunt in omnibus territoriis subiectis 
S.C. de P.F. si deest ecclesia et de licentia Ordinarii loci, saltern legitime prae- 
sumpta." The S.C.P.F. faculties are delegated faculties, while Pastorale Munus 
confers ordinary powers ; in practice, the missionary may use those which are 
legitimate for him and which grant him the widest faculties. Cfr. Belluco, 
Novissimae Ordinariorum Locorum Facilitates, op. ext., pp. 20, 22, 43-44. 

62 Cfr. AAS 51 (i960) 915 ft; C.L. Digest, V, pp. 172. 

63 English translation from C.L. Digest, V, p. 175 ; Latin text is as follows : 
"10) Ordinarii locorum sacerdotibus suae jurisdictioni obnoxiis, ubi via- 

rum et curruum deest copia, facultatem concedere valent substituendi, loco al- 
taris portatilis seu petrae sacrae, aliquod linteum ex lino vel cannabe confectum 
et ab Episcopo benedictum, in quo conditae sint Sanctorum Reliquiae ab eodem 
Episcopo recognitae, super quo iidem sacerdotes sacrosanctum Missae Sacrifi- 
cium celebrare queant iis tantum in casibus, et onerata corum conscientia, in 
quibus aut nulla ecclesia vel oratorium sive publicum sive privatum exstat, et 
valde incommodum sit lapideum altare secum in itinere transferre aut in promptu 
habere. Servatis de cetero servandis iuxta Rubricas, praestertim quoad tobaleas 
et corporate. " 

64 N.B. Nothing was mentioned about the Byzantine antimension. Cfr. 
above, pp. 341 ff. Note that the present faculties were more restricted than those 
later granted by the S.C.P.F. ; cfr. Buijs, op. ext., p. 258 ; Ting Pong Lee, op. 
ext., p. 144. 


in the locale even a private oratory ; furthermore ; they could be used 
only under the conditions of difficulty of transport and of inconvenience 
in carrying or finding a petra sacra. 

2. In regard to these conditions, we may remark : a) even if a 
private oratory exists in the locale, if it lacks a petra sacra, as may well 
be the case, naturally the antimensium latinum may be used ; 65 the 
word and (et) joining the phrase concerning the inconvenience of carrying 
an altar stone or having one handy to the rest of the phrase enunciating, 
the faculty, may be thought of as disjunctive and therefore may be taken 
in the sense of either /or, and therefore it suffices that only one of the two 
conditions be present, i.e. either i) difficulties in regard to transportation 
(lack of sufficient roads or vehicles) or 2) inconvenience in regard to 
petra sacra (carrying it or having one handy) ; 66 c) the phrase "binding 
upon their consciences" (onerata eorum conscientia) is translated in the 
Canon Law Digest^ as "under penalty of sin" and Father Ting Pong 
Lee 68 points to this phrase as demonstrating the gravity (presumably 
grave) of the moral obligation of this precept — this is not obvious from 
the words themselves used in the faculty and may just as well mean that 
the missionary should be attentive in each case to see if all the require- 
ments are fulfilled before substituting the antimensium for the portable 
altar stone. In any case, this phrase was wisely omitted from the sub- 
sequent indults granted by the Holy See. 

E. The Catholic Near East Welfare Association 

Since January 28, 1928, the C.N.E.W.A. 69 has been granting to 
perpetual members of its association the privilege of offering Mass on the 

65 Cfr. Buijs, op. cit., p. 257. 

66 Cfr. Ayala L6pez, op. cit., p. 246 ; G. Montague, "Use of the Anti- 
mension," Irish Ecclesiastical Record, 5th series, 73 (1948) pp. 455-456 ; Pa- 
venti, "Quaestiones de lure Missionali," op. cit., p. 252. 

67 C.L. Digest, loc. cit. 

68 Ting Pong Lee, op. cit., p. 143 : "Gravitas praecepti apparet ex eo quod 
urgebatur 'onerata conscientia missionarium.' " 

69 Cfr. Godley, op. cit., p. 172 ; Henry, op. cit., p. 72. According to the 
official letterhead of the C.N.E.W.A., it is "The Holy Father's Mission Aid to 
the Oriental Church" and "The Association prepares boys for the Priesthood/ 
trains Sisters/Builds, maintains and supports Chapels, Churches, Clinics, Con- 
vents and Rectories in Afghanistan, Albania, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Dodecanese 
Islands, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Greece, India, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, 


Byzantine Antimension, and in its latest leaflet 70 issued bearing the pri- 
vileges of the members are enumerated : 

"2. The Privilege of offering Mass while travelling, in any 
respectable place — except a bedroom — when a church is 
diffcult of access. There must be no danger of irreverence. 
(Granted to Perpetual Members only). 

"5. The Privilege of using the Greek or Latin antimension 
in place of the altar stone. 

"9. The privilege of celebrating Mass in Byzantine Rite 
churches on the Antimensium.'' 

These privileges are self-explanatory ; we need note only that it 
would seem that by virtue of privilege 5, a Priest who is only a temporary 
(annual) member could substitute the antimensium latinum (or the By- 
zantine antimension) for the petra sacra if he a) already enjoyed the fa- 
culty of the portable altar either by title of law, Apostolic Indult or 
faculty granted to him by his Ordinary (using Pastorale Munus, I, n. 7 
and/or 8) ; or uses the antimensium within a sacred place (e.g. for anal tar 
facing the congregation within a church). 71 Without prejudice, of course, 
to the tradition of the Latin Church preferring a consecrated stone, all 
other things remaining equal, i.e. when it is just as convenient to use a 
petra sacra. 

F. The Military Ordinariate of the United States of America 

The 1967 edition of the Vademecum for the Priests Serving the Mi- 
litary Vicariate of the United States of America enumerates among the 
faculties granted to its Chaplains : 

"6. To offer Mass outside a sacred place provided the place 
chosen is proper and befitting ; Mass may be offered aboard 
ship." 72 

Palestine, Syria and Turkey ;" its address is 330 Madison Avenue, New York, 
N.Y. 10017. 

70 Received from one of the Assistant Secretaries, Right Reverend Mitred 
Archpriest Andrew Rogosh on May 7, 1968. The reason for including this infor- 
mation as well as that of the previous note is the fact that the leaflet bears no 
publication data whatsoever. 

71 Notice that nothing is mentioned regarding altar cloths nor corporal ; 
neither is anything said about the type of reason needed to use privilge no. 5. 

72 Vademecum, etc., op. ext., p. 14. 


"8. To use, for a just cause, instead of an altar stone the 
Greek or Latin antimensium with due observance of liturgical 
prescriptions regarding altar cloths and the corporal." 73 

1. The active subject of these faculties is not mentioned (they 
were granted by the Sacred Consistorial Congregation to Francis Cardinal 
Spellman as Military Vicar and by him transmitted to the Chaplains of 
the Military Vicariate). The passive subjects, 74 those Priests to whom 
the faculties are granted, are : 

1. Commissioned Chaplains for the duration of their military 

service ; 

2. Veterans Administration Chaplains for the duration of their 
service with this U.S. Government agency ; 

3. Auxiliary Chaplains only whenever they render spiritual 
assistance to any subject of the Military Vicar ; 75 

4. Reserve Chaplains, National Guard Chaplains and Civil Air 
Patrol Chaplains only when on active duty, or reporting for 
inactive duty training, or when assisting at a military in- 

2. The only condition for use, other than the connection with the 
Military Vicariate specified for the various types of passive subjects of 
the faculty, is that there be a just cause. A just cause may be even the 
private spiritual good of the chaplain, who wishes to celebrate by reason 
of personal devotion and would otherwise have to forego the celebration 
of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. 76 

G. Particular Indults Granted to Individuals by the Holy See 

In these cases, the conditions mentioned in the Apostolic Indult 
itself must be observed ; it is unlikely that any condition will be required 
which is not similar to the ones commented upon above in the six pre- 

73 Cfr. ibidem, p. 15. 

74 Cfr. ibidem, p. iv. 

75 For a lengthy list of persons in any way subject to the Military Vicar, 
cfr. Ibidem, pp. 3-4 ; suffice it to say here that it covers all military personnel, 
their wives, children, servants and relative habitually residing with them, the 
faithful working or dwelling in military installations and institutions. 

76 Cfr. Belluco, Novissimae Ordinariorum Locorum Facilitates, op. cit., 
pp. 79-80 ; Belluco, Facilitates Superiorum Religiosorum, op. cit., pp. 62-63 I 
Buijs, Facilitates Religiosorum, op. cit., p. 42 ; Duffy, op. cit., p. 79. 


vious cases. We may mention in passing that the Sacred Congregation 
of Religious often grants this rescript in forma, commissoria to a Superior 
General for his priests without need of execution by the Local Ordinary, 
while the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith usually 
issues these rescripts in forma exsecutoria, committing the execution of 
the rescript to the Local Ordinary. 77 

77 Cfr. C.L. Digest, IV, p. 267 ; Paventi, Breviarium Iuris Missionalis, 
op. cit., pp. 2-33. 



In considering the liturgical and canonical tradition of the Latin 
Church in regard to the antimension of both the Byzantine and Latin 
Rites, we must take into account the latest development in Latin Li- 
turgical Law as embodied in the new Ordo Missae promulgated April 6, 
1969 by the Sacred Congregation of Rites. In the Institutio Generalis 
Missalis Romani, or General Instruction on the Roman Missal, which is 
the first part of the new Roman Missal actually promulgated on April 6, 
1969, in Chapter Five, which is concerned with "The Arrangement and 
Ornamentation of Churches for the Eucharistic Celebration, Section 
Four, "Concerning the Altar," there is stated: 

"IV. Altar 

259. The altar, where the sacrifice of Christ is made present 
under sacramental signs, is also the table of the Lord. The 
people of God are called together to share in this table. Thus 
the altar is a center of the thanksgiving accomplished in the 

260. In a sacred place the eucharist should be celebrated 
on altar, either fixed or movable. In other places, especially 
where the eucharist is not regularly celebrated, a suitable table 
may be used, but always with a cloth and corporal. 

261. An altar is considered fixed if its is attached to the 
floor so that it cannot be moved. It is a movable altar if it can 
be transferred from place to place. 

262. The main altar should be freestanding so that the mi- 
nisters can easily walk around it and Mass can be celebrated 
facing the people. It should be placed in a central position 

1 Official English translation from The Roman Missal : The Sacramentary , 
Collegeville, Minnesota : The Liturgical Press, 1974, PP- 39~4°- 

16 - J. M. Izzo - The Antimension 


which draws the attention of the whole congregation. (See 
SRC, 10 e 91 : AAS 56 (1964) 898). The main altar should ordi- 
narily be a fixed, consecrated altar. 

263. According to the traditional practice of the Church 
and the meaning of an altar, the table of a fixed altar should 
be of natural stone, but any solid, becoming, and skillfully 
constructed material may be used with the approval of the 
conference of bishops. 

The support or base of the table may be of any solid, be- 
coming material. 

264. A movable altar may be constructed of any solid, 
becoming material which is suited to liturgical use, according 
to the traditions and culture of different regions. 

265. Fixed altars are consecrated according to the rite of the 
Roman Pontifical ; movable altars may be simply blessed. It 
is not necessary to have a consecrated stone in a movable altar 
or on the table where the eucharist is celebrated outside a sa- 
cred place (see No. 260). 

266. It is fitting to maintain the practice of enclosing relics 
in the altar of placing them under the altar. These relics need 
not be those of martyrs, but there must be proof that they are 
authentic." 2 

267. Minor altars should be few in number. In new chur- 
ches they should be placed in chapels somewhat separated 
from the nave. (See SRC, 10 e 93 : AAS 56 (1964) 898). 

2 Ordo Missae, editio typica, Rome : Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis, 1969, 
pp. 61-62, nn. 259-266 and identical text in the Missale Romanum (igyo), pro- 
mulgated by Pope Paul VI in his Apostolic Constitution Missale Romanum of 
April 3, 1969, but actually printed in 1970 by the Vatican Press, pp. 75-76, 
nn. 259-266. The Latin text is as follows : 

IV. De altari 

259. Altare, in quo sacrificium crucis sub signis sacramentalibus praesens 
efficitur, est etiam mensa Domini, ad quam participandam in Missa populus Dei 
convocatur ; atque centrum gratiarum actionis, quae per Eucharistiam perncitur. 

260. Celebratio Eucharistiae, in loco sacro, peragenda est super altare sive 
fixum sive mobile ; extra locum sacrum vero, praesertim si ad modum actus fiat, 
etiam super mensam convenientem, peragi potest, retentis semper tobalea et 

261. Altare dicitur ; si ita exstruatur ut cum pavimento cohaereat ideoque 
amoveri nequeat ; mobile vero si transferri possit. 

262. Altare maius exstruatur a pariete seiunctum, ut facile circumiri et 
in eo celebratio versus populum peragi possit. Eum autem occupet locum, ut 
revera centrum sit ad quod totius congregationis ridelium attentio sponte con- 

Altare maius de more sit fixum et consecratum. 


From these norms we may conclude that although the Ecclesiastical 
tradition is to be continued which requires a consecrated altar containing 
relics for the celebration, outside of cases of emergency, of the Eucha- 
ristic Sacrifice, yet, at least in the Latin Church, on occasion though not 
habitually, these are no longer absolutely necessary, especially extra loca 
sacra. Thus, the use of the Byzantine or Latin Rite forms of the anti- 
mension as a substitute for the portable petra sacra by Latin Rite priests 
would no longer, at first glance, seem to be of as great importance as 

However, the present author feels that given the present stage of 
developement of the state of affairs in the Latin Church, two things 
must be taken into consideration : i) there is a wave of reaction, even 
from official ecclesiastical sources, against the excessive legalism and 
preoccupation with minutiae of the past ; this has led to the eschewal, 
as regards matters liturgical, of absolutism in the non-essentials. For 
this reason, I believe that the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship has 
not insisted on the absolute necessity of a consecrated relic-bearing altar, 
in all cases, since this is clearly not essential to the validity of the cele- 
bration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice. 2) Notwithstanding this recent 
decree of the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship, the present author 
respectfully submits that there is a millenial, and even more ancient, tradi- 
tion in the universal Church which associates the celebration of the Holy 
Mysteries with properly consecrated altars and the relics of the Saints and 
that there exists the Seventh Canon of the Seventh General Council of the 

263. Iuxta traditum Ecclesiae morem et significationem, mensa altaris fixi 
sit lapidea, et quidem ex lapide naturali. Attamen etiam alia materia digna, 
solida et affabre effecta, de iudicio Conferentiae Episcopalis, adhiberi potest. 

Stipites vero aut basis ad mensam sustendam ex qualibet materia, dum- 
modo sit digna et solida, confici possunt. 

264. Altare mobile ex quibuslibet materiis nobilibus et solidis, atque usui 
liturgico, iuxta diversarum regionum traditiones et mores, convenientibus, 
exstrui potest. 

265. Altaria turn fixa turn mobilia iuxta ritum Pontificalis Romani con- 
secrantur ; altaria tamen mobilia benedici tantum possunt. Nulla vero fit obli- 
gatio habendi petram consecratam in altari mobili aut in mensa, supra quam 
extra locum sacrum celebratio peragatur (cf. n. 260). 

266. Usus includendi in altari consecrando, vel deponendi sub altari, re- 
liquias Sanctorum, etsi non Martyrum, opportune servetur. Caveatur tamen ut 
de huiusmodi relinquiarum veritate certo constet. 

267. Altaria minora numero sint pauciora et, in novis ecclesiis, in sacellis 
ab ecclesiae aula aliquomodo seiunctis collocentur. 


Church, Nicea II, which, as we have already had so much occasion to 
note, supports this tradition. 

For these reasons it is my opinion that while the Latin Rite priest 
who celebrates the Eucharistic Liturgy, especially extra loca sacra, on an 
unconsecrated table or other convenient surface is certainly not proceeding 
in an anticanonical manner, still, unless there is great inconvenience 
entailed, he should be encouraged to use either the petra sacra or the 
Byzantine or Latin form of the antimension in order to be in line with 
the ancient and constant tradition of the universal Church. This would 
also seem to be implied in norm 260 of the Institutio Generalis quoted 
above, where celebration without a consecrated altar, even extra loca 
sacra, is viewed as something to be done "praesertim... ad modum actus," 
i.e. only occasionally. 

Lastly, we must note that this modification of the liturgical law 
of the Latin Rite in no way affects the liturgical law of the Byzantine 
Churches, not even those in communion with the Apostolic See of Rome, 
and hence the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, except in cases of dire 
necessity, without a duly consecrated and relic-bearing altar, remains 
forbidden and anticanonical to the Byzantine Rite clergy. 


The antimension is the portable altar of the Byzantine Rite, both 
Catholic and Orthodox, although it is also used on consecrated fixed 
altars as a type of corporal ; the real corporal of the Greek Rite, the 
eileton, is traditionally used under the antimension. 

The word antimension is derived from a combination of the Greek 
prefix anti, meaning "instead of," and the Latin word mensa, taken over 
into the Greek and signifying "table," especially "altar table." Anti- 
mension, therefore means "something used instead of the (fixed) altar.' 

Aside from the fact that in form it consists of a piece of either 
linen or silk, decorated with the scene of the Deposition from the Cross 
and /or Entombment of Christ and inscriptions describing its purpose 
and giving the pertinent data of consecration, the antimension is similar 
to the Latin Rite petra sacra in that it contains Relics and is consecrated 
with Sacred Chrism using a ceremony almost identical to the one used 
for the consecration of a fixed altar. Antimensia were at first consecrated 
only upon the occasion of the consecration of a fixed altar, but necessity 
caused the introduction, already in the Middle Ages, of the consecration 
of antimensia apart from the consecration of a fixed altar. Because of 
the characteristic Byzantine doctrine of "consecration through con- 
tact," the antimension should properly be placed upon a fixed conse- 
crated altar while it is being consecrated. The consecration ceremonial 
resembles, as does that of the fixed altar, the rites of christian initiation 
and so the antimension is sprinkled with Holy Water, anointed with Sacred 
Myron (Chi ism), and finally the Eucharist is celebrated upon it for seven 
days. The two most important moments of the consecration are the 
anointing of the antimension with Chrism and the insertion of the Relics, 
although the validity would seem to depend solely upon the former ; 
for licit use as a portable altar, however, the antimension must be fur- 
nished with Relics. Although the consecration of antimensia has some- 
times in the past been delegated to Priests, this runs counter to the 
practice of the Byzantine Church, since the antimension is a witness to 


the at least symbolic presence of the local Bishop at each Eucharistic 
Synaxis, and through him, and his sharing in the Apostolic Succession, 
to communion with the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church of 

The antimension loses its consecration, i.e. becomes desecrated 
only when completely destroyed ; however, it may lose its usefulness for 
the celebration of the Holy Mysteries if it becomes too torn or soiled for 
decent use ; in this case it should be withdrawn from circulation and 
either kept in a suitable place, or, after removing the Relics, burned and 
the ashes disposed of in the sacrarium. Unless otherwise damaged in the 
process, washing the antimension does not result in its loss of usefulness ; 
however, the washing of antimensia is repugnant to the sensibilities of 

The antimension is used either as a portable altar or as a type of 
corporal on a fixed consecrated altar. Used as a portable altar, it supplies 
for the consecration of the table upon which it is extended and for the 
hallowing of the place itself. No altar cloths nor corporal are necessary 
when used for the celebration of the Byzantine Divine Liturgy, although 
the covering of the table with some suitable cloth would be laudable. 
To use the antimension as a portable altar outside of a sacred place, a 
Bishop needs no permission. A Priest must receive this faculty from his 
Bishop, which, however, may be implied in his receiving the antimension 
from the hands of the Bishop ; once received, it may be used even out- 
side of the eparchy (diocese) of the Bishop who granted it. Oriental 
Catholic Religious Priests may under certain circumstances receive this 
permission from their Religious Superiors ; it is necessary that they belong 
to any one of the Oriental Rites, but their Superior may be of Western 
or Oriental Rite. The antimension should be kept in a decent place, folded 
like the Latin corporal and in a protective covering, and should not be 
given to lay persons nor ordinarily touched by anyone who is not in 
Major Sacred Orders (which in the Byzantine Rite begin with the rank 
of Deacon). 

The canonical tradition of the Latin Church, to whose attention the 
antimension was brought in the XVI c. by the influx into Italy of By- 
zantine Rite immigrants, allegedly not always firm in their loyalty to 
the Pope of Rome, has eschewed the use of the antimension by Latin 
Rite priests, apart from exceptional circumstances and in particular cases. 
This attitude culminated in the insertion in the Pian-Benedictan Code 
of Canon Law of a clause in canon 823, § 2 (which canon sanctioned to a 
certain degree the interritual use of altars) forbidding a Latin Priest to 


celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass upon a Byzantine antimension. 
Little by little, this discipline was relaxed and many indults were given, 
especially to military chaplains, for the use of the antimension by Latin 
Rite clergy.. In our own day, the faculties of Pastorale Munus permit 
a Local Ordinary to grant to his Priests (including those of the Latin 
Rite), in certain circumstances, the use of the Byzantine antimension as 
a substitute for the petra sacra. However, the ruling of canon 823, § 2 
cannot be considered abrogated, although it may be foreseen that the 
legislation on this point will be modified in the forthcoming renewal of 
Pian-Benedictan Code of Canon Law. 

Since at least the late logo's, the Latin Church has begun to imitate 
the Byzantine antimension, and in its present form the antimensium 
latinum (which name is the most convenient one used) consists of a linen 
or hemp cloth, having sewn into a small pocket in one of its (right hand) 
corners authenticated relics of at least one martyr (but properly more 
than one), and blessed with a very simple cermony by a Bishop or pro- 
perly delegated priest. In outward appearance, it resembles very much 
the Latin corporal. The Latin antimensium is always used with the 
rubrically prescribed altar cloths and a corporal ; it is never used as a 
corporal, and is placed under the altar cloths like the petra sacra for 
which it is a very convenient substitute. The local Ordinary may permit 
the use of the Latin antimensium to his priests, under certain circum- 
stances, by the faculties granted to him through the Motu Proprio Pa- 
storale Munus, of where, they apply, the Decennial Faculties granted to 
the missions and other territories. The faculties of Pastorale Munus 
tend to absorb these other grants, and the missionary may use whichever 
faculty is legitimate to him and facilitates more his work for the salva- 
tion of souls. 

Our comparison of the Latin and Byzantine forms of the portable 
altar may be illustrated by the following chart p. 233. 

The Christian altar began as a portable altar, and only later did 
fixed altars come into' vogue ; portable altars have always remained an 
important canonical institute, because outside of cases of extreme ne- 
cessity, the Eucharistic Sacrifice, even when celebrated outside of a sa- 
cred place, must still be performed only upon a consecrated altar, although 
the Latin Church now admits of exceptions per modum actus. In 
the Latin Church there are two forms of the portable altar, the petra 
sacra and the antimensium latinum, while in the Byzantine Church, 
there is one form only, the Byzantine antimension. Having studied the 
antimension in the canonical tradition of the Byzantine and Latin Chur- 


ches, we would like to close with a thought from the Russian Orthodox 
writer Nikolai Vassilyevich Gogol, who wrote in the year 1850 : 

"The antimension recalls the time when christians were 
persecuted and the Church had no settled abode. They could 
not carry an altar from place to place, so they used a Commu- 
nion cloth into which relics of the Saints were sewn. To us in 
our day the antimension proclaims that the Church is not con- 
fined to any exclusive building, city or locality, but rides like 
a ship on the waves of this world, nowhere coming to anchor, 
for her anchor is cast in heaven." 1 

1 Cfr. Nikolai Vassilyvich Gogol, The Divine Liturgy of the Eastern 
Orthodox Church (translated from the Russian by Rosemary Edmonds), London: 
Dartman, Longman & Todd, 1966, p. 30. 


Rite : 

LATIN RITE (2 forms) 


I. Name 

Petra Sacra 

Latin Antimen- 



A. Material 

Tablet of stone 

linen or hemp 

linen or silk cloth 

B. Ornamentation 

none prescribed 

none prescribed 


C. Inscriptions 

none prescribed 

none prescribed 

purpose & data of 

D. Inclusion of Re- 



not always 

III. Consecration 


simple blessing 

B. Minister 

Bishop or dele- 
gated Priest 

Bishop or dele- 
gated Priest 

Bishop ; Priests not 
usually delegated 

C. Occasion in rela- 
tion to fixed altar 

usually apart 

always apart 

either with or apart 
from fixed altar 

±j. j^esecra. tion 

(Loss of usefulness) 

By fracture of 
stone or removal 
of relics 

by becoming un- 
fit for purpose 

oniy wnen compieta,iy 

TV TTtfi 

A V . KJ So 

A. Purpose 

always portable 
altar, per se 

always porta, Die 
altar, per se 

either portable altar 
or corporal 

B. Altar cloths and 

alway necessary 

always necessary 

not necessary when 
used in Byzantine 

C. Washing 




D. Permission for use: 
i. by Bishop 

granted by CIC 

granted through 
Pastorale Munns, 
various indults 

never seems to have 
been restricted 

2. by Priest 



necessary but may be 

3. Interritual Use 

always permitted 

may be permitted 
through Pastora- 
le Munus and va- 
rous indults 

per se still forbidden 
to Latin clergy ; may 
be permitted through 
Pastorale Munus and 
various indults 


(Works whose titles are in a language using the Cyrillic 
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AnMacoB, A. Heii3naHHbie KaHOHimecKiie otbctii KoHdaHTHHononbCKaro 
riaipnapxa JlyKH K. n MiiTponoairra Po^oiunaro Hiina. Ojecca, 

BaHHHCLKHH, AjieKCaH^p. Cjiy>Ke6HHK CBflTHTeJIbCbKHH. JIbBOB, 1886. 

EyjiraKOB, M. IlaTpnapx Hhkoh b aene ncnpaBneHiiH LJepKOBHbix khht 
h 06panoB. MocKBa, 1881. 

EyjiraKOB, C. B. HacronbHaH KHHra hjih CBHineHHo-LlepKOBHo-Cny>KH- 
Tenefi. XapKOB, Timorpa({)HH TySepHCKaro ripaBjieHHH, 1900. 

BeHHaMHH, MiiTponojiHT. HoBan CKpH/Kanb hjih o6T>HCHeHiie o UepKBii, 
o JlHryprHH h o Bcex cjiy>K6ax h yTBapnx E[epKOBHbix. C. IIeTep6ypr, 
H. JI. TyaoBa, 1908. 

KopeH, Hep. Ahtohiih. KaK CBHTirrb XpaM n ero npiiHaanoKHoeTH. 
Phm, 1962. Il3^aHHe PyccKOH KaTOJiH^ecKon UepKBii b Phmc 

JlaB^nceB, EBreHHil. KpaTKHH 06-bHCHiiTeabHbifi CnoBapb. C. neiepoypr, 
H. E. Ty30Ba, 1891. 

MiiKHTa, AjiencaHAp. UepKOBHHii Thiihkoh. YiirBap, 1901. 

MapycHH, O. 3p. MnpocnaB. Hhhh CBHTirrejibCBKHX Cny>K6 b KiiBicbKOMy 
EBXonornoHH 3 rionaTKy 16 ct. Phm, 1966. BnaaHHH YKpaiHCbKoro 
KaTonnubKoro YHHBepcHTeiy hm. Cb. KjiiiMeHTiin Flann. 

HlIKOJIbCKHH, KOH. 06t> AHTHMHHCaX ripaBocjiaBHon Pvcckoh UepKBii. 
CaHKTneTep6ypr-b, bt> Tunorpatjmn HnoBa Tpen, 1872. 

HHKOJibCKHfi, Koh. noco6ne kt> H3yHeHHio YcTaBa BorocjiyweHHH IlpaBO- 
cjiaBHOH LtepKBii. C. neTep6ypn>, 1900. (OoTOTiimmeeKoe ii3^aHiie, 

Cny>Ke6HHKT> . MocKOBCKan IlaTpnapxiiH, MocKBa, 1956. 


Thiihkoht> hjih YcTaBi,. CHHoaajibHan Tnnorpa(j)Hfl, MocKBa, 1901. 
(OoTOTHnnqecKoe mjnaime 1964). 

Tpe6HHKi>. MocKOBCKan TlaTpHapxHH, MocKBa, 1956. 

Tpe6HHKt. IlepeMHiujib, Tiinorpa(|)HH MoHaxa TepMaHa EHuonaxa, 1926. 

Tpe6HHK MajibiH. Phm. B OoTOJiHTorpa(J)HH T. A. LJ., 1952. 

Tpe6HHKi>, qacTb TpeTbH. Phm. B Tnnorpa({)Hii KpHirro(|)eppaTCKOH, 1951. 

Tpe6HHKT> aonojiHHTejiLHWH. KneB-b, neqepcKan JIaBpa, 1871. 

Tpe6HHKi> aonojiHHTejibHbiw. KHeBi>, THnorpat})HH KneBO-rieqepcKHH 
YcneHCKHH JIaBpbi, 1921. 

Hhht> ApxHepeftcKaro JJchctbhh BomecTBeHHOH JlHTyprHH h ocBHmeHHB 
AHTHMHHCa H IJepKBH. MocKBa, 1668, 

MHHOBHHK'b ApxHepeiiCKaro CBHmeHH0CJiy>KeHHH. J]>KopnaHBHJib. Thiio- 
rpa(j)HH PL IloHaeBCKaro b MoHacTbipe Cb. Tponm>i, 1965. 


Father Januarius M. Izzo, o.f.m., was born on April 23, 1934, in Brooklyn, 
New York, and christened Francis Edmond William at the Parish of Our Lady 
of Refuge. 

After completing his elementary education in the Public School System of 
Brooklyn, he moved with his parents to Catskill, New York, where he attended 
Catskill Public High School, graduating in 1951. He studied Physics at Brooklyn 
Polytechnic Institute for one year, entering St. Francis Seraphic Seminary, 
Andover, Mass., in the fall of 1952, where he studied Latin, Greek and Italian for 
one year. On August 15, 1953, he received the Habit of St. Francis and the re- 
ligious name Januarius Maria in the Novitiate of the Immaculate Conception 
Province of the Friars Minor (New York) at Immaculate Conception Novitiate, 
Troy, New York. He was simply professed on August 16, 1954, whereupon he 
pursued his philosphical studies for four years (pronouncing his Solemn Vows 
on August 16, 1957) a * St. Francis Seminary, Andover, Mass., and Mt. Alvernia 
Seminary, Wappingers Falls, New York. At Mt. Alvenia Seminary Father Ja- 
nuarius also did his four years of theological studies, being ordained to the Sa- 
cred Priestood on June 16, 1962. He then taught Mathematics and Religion for 
two years at Christopher Columbus High School (an extern school of the Imma- 
culate Conception Province) in Boston, Mass., during which time he attended 
classes in Education and Psychology at Boston College (Jesuit Fathers). Id 
the fall of 1964 he enrolled in the School of Canon Law at the Catholic University 
of America, Washington, D.C., where he received the degree of Baccalaureate 
in Canon Law in May, 19,65. In the autumn of 1965, Father Januarius was sent 
by his Superiors to Rome, where he enrolled in the School of Canon Law at the 
Pontificum Athenenaeum Antonianum (Franciscan Fathers) ; there in June, 
1966, he was awarded the degree of Licentiate in Canon Law. In the meantime, 
he also pursued courses at the Pontifical University of the Lateran (Moral Theology 
section- Alphonsianum), the Pontifical Institute of Oriental Studies, the Pon- 
tifical Archeological Institute (where he received a diploma in the Introductiory 
Course), the Russicum, and those offered by the Sacred Congregation for Re- 
ligious, and the Sacred Roman Rota. He successfully defended his Doctoral 


thesis in the Aula Magna of the Pontificium Athenaeum Antonianum on June 24, 
1968. On July 4, 1968, His Excellency, the Most Rev. Andrew Katkoff, m.i.c, 
Russian Byzantine Catholic Ordaining Bishop and Apostolic Visitor for All 
Russian Rite Catholics Outside of Russia, at a concelebrated Divine Liturgy in 
the Chapel of Sts. Cyril and Methodius in the Basilica of St. Clement in Rome, 
raised Father Januarius to the rank of a Right Revered Mitred Archimandrite of 
the Russian Byzantine Rite. On May 31, 1970, Father Januarius was awarded 
the Degree of Master of Arts in Religious Education from Emmanuel College, 
Boston, and for the past three years has taught courses in Byzantine Liturgical, 
Sacramental, and Spiritual Theology at St. Basil's (Byzantine Melkite) Seminary, 
Methuen, Mass. At the same time he taught the Natural Sciences and Religion 
at St Francis Seminary, where he was also Guardian (Superior) from 1970 to 
1973. Fr. Januarius then spent one year as Provincial Vocation Director. 



19 - J. M. Izzo - The Antimension 

Iuris Ecclesiastici Graecorum, Rome, Propaganda Fidei, 1868, Vol. II, pp. 329,337. 


»$.*Eav Ti$ roXfxiia-r) sxvtov evSuVai to ayioy c^vf-oi. 
irgo^acrfi (TTfxTciaq y dXXvs tivo; ffavougyiac, SyQsv 
yiXoia£a>y , touto sirtTlfAtov sfst Tso"O"agaxo0-Ta? y , xai 
outw? 5£X^ TW Il- 
ls'. 'Ea'v <pSag»j /Aovao-Tgia uiro fiapfidpuv yj xai drecx- 
ruv dvSguv, xai 17V. o jrgoTou {3/oj auTi?? dpsfAirTos 2), 
■Cif TJo"cragaxovTa yfisgas sirtTtfAaTcti v.ui xoivuvs'itw 
■I 5e ffa? o (3i'o? avTvs fASfxoXuo'fAsvoi; ^v, to ttj; pioi- 
jfs«'af sitit![aiov sxirXvQua-r). 

if'. 'I'a'y xara ayvoiav fl-Xuvflv? a'yTipiiWiov, ou /xo- 
XuveTai" o yag ayiacyxd? «» auTy eVti* to yag i'epo» pua- 
pdv ou yivETai 3). 

if. 0/ a'ird TraXXaxiSo? xai wogvsiag xai a«ro 8i- 
y a ft let; xai Tgiyapcia? tixto'/xsvoi «-arSe£, eay ^ay«ciy 
agETaj e^ovtej , xai J<riv a£ioi lEgwffuvrjf, j^EigoTO- 
vsiaQu<rav 4). 

itj . 'Ea'v ti< o'Xiyov xaigdv Bid (3iav Tiva irotycv 
xoituvoc Toy yuvaixiTTjv ttjj exxXTjcria? 5), oo xaTaxgive- 
Tai* iav Bs X6 OV,0 '?'> al > T< >£ / x<v eViTifzao*8«, 17 Se ex- 
xXrjcia aVoXijSJ/ETai to oixsta. 

18'. Xpii 6) Ta a^aVTio-Ta yij'ma, sdv ewgeflrj tij ei{ 
Tojroy, fir] ffago'yToj i£pE«$ , (3a7rTio-8flvar sis ir&vav diro- 
piav,6 1S10? irarvp, vj olocByiroTs avOgwjrof , pidvov iva 
«Vti ^gio-Ttavd?, ei j3as-Ti'^£i , oux eVtiv aptagWa. 

x'. Xprj ptvTjpioveuEiv To'y Sia'xovov tou n'youptevou au- 
tou ei$ Ta Siaxovixa jravTOTE. 

xai. 'O ^affTiaOfi?, xai ex veo'tijto; «y ^gio-Tiavd?, 
«i xai t £ eflvwv J^aTTTio-Oii vewo-ti , 17 xai 7) tij ijXixia 
jrgo(3£/3ijx<Jf £Wf stcJv X' 17, xai Trgoa^avi? l^«y dpsTaq, 


x|3'. "Oti oj j^pi} /zsTaSiSovai toi$ XafA.^avouo~t 8) 
Toxoy , -n (TUVecOieiv auToTf sirtfAsvouo-t rrj Tragavo/xia. 

xy'.'Ea'y pioya^o? jteVii 11$ syxXvfAa, xai oux 17 a£'°? 
xoy«y/a«, ov %(>-o avro* £t/Xoy£rv Tga'?r£^av, ewj J xoiyu- 

rus cf 329 

14. Qui ausus fuerit sacrum habilum induere sub 
militiae praetextu aut cuiusvis alius fraudis, quasi 
per iociim, poenitentiam babebit trium quadrage- 
simarum , neque aliter in commuDionem recipiatur. 

15. Si fuerit monialis a barbaris aut a procaci- 
bus hominibus vitiata , erat autem vita ipsius ante 
acta maculae expers , quadraginta diebus poeniteat, 
deiu communicet; sin autem prior vita tola impura 
fuit, adulterii poenam expleat. 

16. Si ignoranter anliminsium lolum fuerit, non 
polluitur: sanctificatio enim in ipso manel; quod 
enim sacrum , impurum non fit. 

17. Qui ex concubina scortove aut digamis vel 
trigamis nati sunt, modo constet eos pollere vir- 
tutibus, dignosque esse sacerdotio, ordinentur. 

18. Si quis ad breve tempus ob vim aliquam 
cubiculum fecerit in ecclesiae atrio, non condem- 
natur. Si moram ibi fecerit, poenis quidem ipse 
subiicitor, ecclesia vero eius supellectilem retineblt. 

19. Necesse est infantes nondum baptizati , in- 
venti in loco ubi sacerdos non comparet, baptizen- 
tur; quovis imminente periculo , proprius pater aut 
qualiscumque demum vir , modo christianus sit , si 
baptizat, nullum est peccatum. 

20. Semper meminisse oportet diaconum anti- 
stitis sui ad singula officii sui munia. 

21. Baptizatus aliquls et a teneris christianus, 
vel ex gentilitate recens initi.-Uus , si adolescentia 
expleta , venerit ad XXX annos , ac cernalur vir- 
tutibus non indigere , manibus consecrator. 

22. Nefas est iis quiusuram faciunt sacra tradi r 
aut cum illis edi , dum in pravitate sua perseverant. 

23. Si monachus in reatum incident, nec com- 
munione dignus sit, illi vetatur ne mensam bene- 
dicat, donee communioni restituatur. 

1) brxpiatrai 15. — 'O to /xoyax'xdv eySd? (Txvp* <fd^ 
O-TgaTf/aj ijaXXij r.v.uq SrjOfy tow'tow xaTay£X«y xai 
toGto pi£Ta Trjy a'yayx»jy 19 T»)y wVoxgio-iv a7ro0£/x£yoj, ei( 
Ttffcrag. y' T}/*£gwy eirirt[xdrcit, xai oot« t>5 ayia npavsiGi 
xoiy«y/a 34.-^2) apt£/x«-TOf, gViTi/xioy ypspuv [i sx £t - ■ • 
tl Be 6 ?rg«'yjy aCr-ris ^i«?. . . ex»rX»jgoP, 34. — 3) oux aVo- 
TiOerai Toy a'yiacrptdy, oo'Se |3£^»jXoy yivsrai 34. — st 
Tif irXrivy [al. ttXtqOV), irXvQrj, 7rX>j0tiy0r5] to «>t., ou fiXd- 
wrsf ydp dyiao-poq sv aCrr) [isvei irdvrors 35. In fine 
49 addit * pto'yoyey ajroxgu^o; toV« £X^vy£<r6w to aVo- 

vXu^x. cf. infra can. 95-98. Idem canon inseritur in 
Theodori Studitae Epitimia, num. XIV, apud Ma- 
lum , Bibl. nov. t. V , p. ult. p. 14. De antiminsiis 
sive pannis, altarium vice sacratis , multa sunt in 
syntagmate Matthaei Blastaris ad litt. A, c. 8, p. 20; 
Hem ad litt. E, cap. 12, p. 118 edit. Bevereg. Ad cu- 
mulum lege Habert. in 'Apx»ee aT - P- 657—664, ubi e 
Meursii lexico hie idem Nicephori canon adducitur. 
Quin splendidum huiusmodi linteolum vide descri- 
ptum apud Maium Bibl. nov. X. V, praef. p. VIII. 

— 4) TroXXax. ij Siya/xiuy ij Tgiya'/xw» t. ff., sdv af ioy i£p«- 
Giivv){ smSeil-uvTai ^i'oy, ^EigOToyotJyTai. 34. - ff£gi^ay«- 

Iurii EccUt. Grate. Tom. II. 

<riy.. ^=igoTov=io-Sai oJ xwXooyTai ib. Haec vero disci- 
plina confirmatur lomo unionis Nicolai CP. , et ex- 
ponitur in Balsamonis respons. LXXII ad Marc. Al. 
— 5) rvs sxxX. om. 41 , 48. - apud Mattheum can. Ill : 

'O e£ aya'yx»j,- sir o'Xiyov yjovov sv tu ya'gOrjxi T17; exxXtj- 
o*ia? xaraptoyrjy TroiTjca'/xEvo?, ow xaTaxg... awTof [miv 
fA.STS7TtTtfA.iuv Ex^X^OiiffETai , o Ss vaof ajroXrj^/fTai Ta* 

oixEia. Haec vero quadrant cum trull, can. LXXIV 
et XCVII , Dionys. Alex. II , etc. — 6) Eav yEw^n 

VTjjria e*y ptovaygioi? "ai ojx eo"tiv sv Tonotq exei»oi; tj ic- 
gsu?, v Sia'x. ij (a.ov. otysiXovai ^airTiaat aoToi xai xoo*pti- 
xoi ^pio"Tiayoi ffgo'f to fA,r) aVoOay£iv aj3a'ffTio*Ta 33). - fA,v 
ovToq ispius,fiuirTl£soQai vvotuv sCpio-xo[A.svvv ^pio-Tia- 
ywv xai vir avTOV tov iSiov ffaTpoj, oil yap eVny a/x. 40. 
— Ei ^aiTTl^st 8s xai o TSio? ir. ../zdvo> si ^gio-Tiavdf, oux 

Id. 34 - 7) Elys f. n-go(3c-|3. Jv m(48. Lucem forte dabunt 
huic can. ea quae in cod.331egimus: 'O ^a«-Ti<rO£if 

tx yEOT^TOsauTOu.xp'O'TJavof «> **o 17' xai iE'xgo'v«v,£»»- 
TouvTai auTou Tot apiagTu'/xaTa.'Ea'y Si sx xuv e'6»Jy Tifij 
xai f3aJrTia8i7 xai [ei]X' stv io~rL, xai yiyw'<rxA»y ypdfXfAaTa, 
Se^eVOu ii( i£g«ffw'ytjy.— 8) Aapi^avoy tcc y svQittv sl( tov 
o'xoy auTwy 33. Xtf ptraMSuv tou; Xapi^a>oyTa<. . . in- 




XaiuSr) /.Xs[JL[ji.ara t ov% UgoCruf dWd xai d hfuSiis 
xai tu toiovtu itE^nrEtruv , xaOaigerrai. 

4e. Ta dvTipiivvia, Iv0a av 5(gs«a yevrirai tovtuv , 
ax«XuTW£ ■napairEp.TtQVTai, xai ou Trspiy^d^ovTai e'v tvSe 
tv) evogicL 77 EXft'vt}, aXXa Se xai uTTEgdgia yivovTaj, xaOa 

$7} XttJ TO SstOV [AUgOV 1). 

•4^-' 'Eav avTipiivmov 2) jrXovO^sy to'ttw dnov.QVtyu -n 
xaXu/x/zara 3), ow'x eo-tiv a/xapWa" el Se ev tottw ev a wa- 

T£?Taj , df/,af>TaVETat. 

4£' 'O pisra dvTifxivaiov e'v i'Sia> to'ttw oi'xtVxov rj 
irXo/ou, Se/a<f eixovi d^upio-psvu, ispovpyijffaq r, |3a7rW- 
<raj, o j 7TQOXQi[xaTKT^-n(TETai , svsi xai oi toi'j (3a<7J- 
Xeoo-jv 4) eVo'/ajvoi xXi7g»xoj £7r» TTESiaSwv epypuv UpOUQ- 
youtriv , ev jxovu [aevtoi dnoTSTaypiEvu £»'j touto (3a/xGi- 
xi'y« 5) olxiaxu. 

Ar)'. fEcty] ieqeos \siToopyna-n 8i%a avT»/x»vo"i'oy , e^ei 
iirirlpttov jcgdvov Eva, /xsravoia? g'. 

40 'Isgju? 0) ETriyvoiJ j tvjv cJvojxov /xo»;££o9siVav , 
etTruadjXEvoq fxsv , azwXt/To?" 7raqaSs^d[y.ivoq Se, dvispoq' 
tt)v npoixa Se Tr)i TOiauTvjt; to /aev Si[xoipov unkp too 
te^9e'vtoj TraiSd;, to Se TgjTov 7ragaa^E0y;'o-£Ta« auV/7 
So^-oa-ofJLtvov £»'? to povao-T-opiov e'v w dnoxa^ria-zxai. 

g. Eav Tif aVd xX£\|//a5 ($6veuciv [/.eXsr-no-n , Ini- 
Ttf/Aa etv) X, fXETavotag /*', to ?rg«i' xai E<T7TEpa<;, optoiug 
xai avTi'Swgov xaTa 8' xwgiaxaj. 

ga. 'O xXeVtvj? x«to tov f/.syav BaaiXsiov xav.l-d 
e! yt,ev.ixou<riuq E^u/xoXoyvffaTO , Et'? eto? ev d$opi£s- 
ta\' si Se eXsy^Beiv , ettj /3'. 'AXX' ty*«X$ tov yvvxriuq ps- 
ravoovvTa, i'wj rJ/y.Ega? /x' t^; xoiywvj'aj aVs »gyo/zsv- , 
tov Si sXjy^OEVTa p^gdvov opoiov {xsra tt)v 6' ^vpotfia- 
youvra. xut pETavo/a? to vjx3'/)/XEgov. 

magis foro quani in eccleslastico versatus, unde- 
cim tamen Nicephori canones excitavit, quorum 
duos, scilicet nostros 94, 95, solus propemodum 
servavit in can. epitome sect. II tit. 1 et 6. Cod. 27 
nanian. fusiorem videtur sequi scripturam: 'O Se 

8. xX. s. sis Ispuauvriv oox eg^ETai. Ei oe /xeto." t»jv ls~ 
puavv/iY tu rraOsi TTEpiirEdoOrai, rovrog Trj; iEf>uauvriq 
diro yo/xvow (diroyvjxvuO'n ?), xaTa tov xe' tJv dyiuv aVo- 

<rTdx«v , canonemque integrum recital et addit: xai 

o to xXaffEv oTroSE^d^tEvoc i<ru$ too xXE\}/avTo; rtpLupEi- 

t«.— 1) /xJcov. Brevius in cod. 28 et 29 ( Marcian. 

231, 232)." rd avTipivaia oJ 7rEgiyga<povTaJ ev olq itE^- 
JTOVTai to'ttoi?, aXX' axuXurut; [aXXa navray^ou 29] i'e- 

gougyouo-iv. His quae supra ad can. 16 tetigimus obiter 
de antiminsiis , adde pauca huic 95 etcaeteris canoni- 
bus illustrandis necessaria. Ut requiruntur pro sa- 
cris conficiendis altaria ab episcopo consecrata et 
lapidea, quae hue illuc deportari Orientales non 
sinunt, ita facile concesserunt sacros quosdam pan- 
nos , altarium ritu et vice usurpari , quos anti- 
minsia dicunt, i. e. quae pro consecralis mensis 
sunt. Quum autem templum dedicatur , solent anti- 
stites huiusmodi pannum bumi sternere , sanctaeque 
mensaecircumvolvere, eumdemque postea, in mul- 
tas partes scissum, inter sacerdotes distribuere, ut 

Jam Eccles. Graec. Tom. II. 

pitalibus , ad sacerdotium non admittatur; quin etiam 
sacerdotio initiatus, si in tale crimen ceciderit, 

95. Antiminsia, ubicumque fuerit iis opus, citra 
prohibitionem miltunlur, neque bac vel ilia re- 
gione circumscribuntur, sed in allam quoque pro- 
vinciam transferuntur, sicut et sacrum unguentura. 

96. Si antiminsium lotum fuerit, vel etiam vela, 
in loco abdito, non peccalur; sin ubi palam deam- 
bulalur, peccatum est. 

97. Qui cum anliminsio in privato loco domun- 
culae vel naviculi, divinis imaginibus consecrato, 
autliturgiam aut baptismum perficit, ne cilius dam- 
netur , quum clerici imperatoribus addicti , in cam- 
pestribus desertis sacra faciunt, nec nisi interim 
in tuguriolo ad id ex panniculis linteis aptalo. 

98. Sacerdos, si liturgiam fecerit sine antimin- 
sio , obnoxius est poenitentiae unius anni et cen- 
tum metanoearum. 

99. Sacerdos qui noverit coniugem suam adul- 
teravisse, si dimiserit earn, erit insons; si receperit 
earn, contaminatur. Dotis vero illius duae partes 
proli genitae reserventur: tertia autem pars ipsi 
danda ad monasterium in quo tondebilur. 

100. Si quis ex furto in ca£dis meditationem ve- 
nerit, habet poenam IV annorum , metanoearum XL 
sabbato -ad vesperas, simulque donum offerat per 
IV dominicas. 

101. Fur ex magni Basilii Qanone LXI, si sponto 
confessus fuerit, uno anno separalur; si convictus, 
duobus annis : nos autem sincere poenitentem XL 
dies a communione arcemus; convictum, per idem 
tempus , additis ad horam IX xerophagia et VI me- 
tanoeis die ac nocte. 

ipsi sanclas iis mensas , ubicumque sacra celebra- 
verint, amiciant. Cf. Bevereg. t. II, p. 132 Annot. 
Editores horum canonum omnes fugit Harmenopuli 
esse scholium illud quod male in canonem intru- 

SeniOt. KaXoJyTai Se ovtu;, ut; avTiTrpotrurra xai dvri- 
runa ruv ffoXXcJv jxivauv, tuv xarapTi^ovruv tvjv dyiav 
xai Sjo-7roTJxrjv rpditE^av xupiug Se lit txstvatf tuv 
TpoLTTE^uv TiQEVTai a? xaQi Egucni; oJ^ »jy»ao*£V. Itdem 

praeterea editores caecis oculis ineptam Leuncla- 
vii versionem receperunt , omniuo emendandam et 
sic fortasse: « Antiminsia autem appellantur, quasi 
in vice et in imagine ponantur multorum linleo- 
lorum qui sacrae et dominicae mensae aptantur. 
Proprie vero pro mensis apponuotur, quas conse- 
cratio non sanctiflcavit. » Haec Earmenopulus ac- 
cepit a Balsamone in can. VI. concil. H. SS. ni- 
caeni.— 2) dvTip'ivaiov. Canon 16 accedat hisce qua- 
luor 95, 96, 97, 98; omnes enim simul iunguntur in 
cod. 28 etquatuorin 29 sub eadem epigraphe n-spi 

dvTi[xiva-iuv Stxr,$ dgot> Trar^iag^ow , quasi ab UUO foilte 

deriventur. — 3) xaXu^a cod. 29, suspicor gravius 
mendum hue irrepsisse, pro his verbis quae cod. 
48 in can 16 inserit : povov e'v dnov.^j^u toVw Exyu- 

veVOw to d7roxdXupi[j.a. — 4) (3ao"iXiXijj pro ^ao-iX»xo?5 ? 

29.-5) (3«/x(3t?x/t« ib. — 6) le^eof. Ex eodem veneto 



First of all, the bishop orders the treasurer, or the priest to whom is 
entrusted the consecration of the churn and who has experience in this, 
to prepare all that is needed, that is : a little pocket is sewn on the reverse 
side of the antimensia, in the middle of the upper part. When they are ready 
he places them on a tray and carriers them into the church, putting them 
on the altar on the "inditia" (altar cloth). He also prepares the wax-mastic, 
the holy relics of the Martyrs and a receptable with the "rodostamma" 
(rose-water), (a good Mass wine is used if there is no rose-water), the sacred 
Myron (chrism) in a container, and a brush for anointing the antimensia 
with the Myron. 

The sacred relics are placed in particles on a Diskos (Paten) with 
the Asteriskos on the Diskos ; they are covered with the "pokrov" (Paten 
Veil), put on the prothesis table, and two candles are lighted in front of 
them. (If many antimensia are to be consecrated, then relics are placed on 
the paten according to the number of the antimensia). 

When the time for the Sacred Liturgy has arrived the Bishop vests 
in all the episcopal robes ; over these he is girded with a savanon (apron) ; 
in front, from chest to feet ; in back, caught up in a way that the two ex- 
tremes touch. Across this savanon is placed a cincture ; on each arm of 
the Bishop is placed a towel, tied with a ribbon. 

Vested in this way the Bishop enters the sanctuary and the priests 
and deacons present enter with him ; no other persons may come into the 
sanctuary : only the Bishop, the priest and the deacons (and servers). 

The protodeacon : Let us pray the Lord. 

1 Adapted from Maltzew, Begr3bnis-Ritus und-einige specielle und alterhumliche 
Gottesdienste der Orthodox-Katholisjhen Kirche des Morgenlandes, Part II, pp. 1 14-142, as 
collated with various Euchologia and Cinovici. 


The Bishop, in front of the altar, prays over the antimensia, in a way 
so as to be heard by all : 

"O Lord God, our Savior, who create and ordain everything 
for the salvation of the human race, accept the prayer which we, 
your unworthy servants offer to You ; render us apt at this moment 
to accomplish in blameless manner this our ministry of consecrating 
an altar for your glorification, in your Holy Name, in the name of 
Saint N. N., and of offering on this holy table the sacred gifts." 

Exclamation (Ekphonesis) : Because to You is given all glory, honor 
and adoration, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and always and forever 
and ever. Amen. 

And immediately an orletz (small carpet) is extended before the Royal 
Doors of the Ikonostasis and a cushion placed on it. The Bishop leaves 
the sanctuary, and when he is on the orletz : 

The protodeacon : Again and again, bending the knee, we pray to 
the Lord. 

The Bishop kneels on the cushion, and the priests who are with him, 
as also all the deacons who are in the sanctuary, kneel down. The Bishop 
prays as follows : 

"O God without beginning and eternal, You draw all things 
out of nothing ; You dwell in inaccessible light ; You have the 
heavens as your throne and the earth as a footstool ; you gave 
Moses orders and prescriptions, and to Bezalel a spirit of wisdom, 
thus enabling them to construct the Tabernacle of the Covenant, 
in which rites and celebrations were performed, as images and 
prefigurations of the reality; you granted Solomon breadth and 
greatness of heart, and that way you reared the ancient temple. 
Your grace has inaugurated the true tabernacle, the celebration 
in the spirit through your saints and most exalted Apostles ; by 
means of them you have planted on the earth your churches and 
your altars, O Lord of Powers, so that spiritual and unbloody 
sacrifices be offered to you ; who graciously deigned that this altar 
be consecrated in the name of Saint N. N., to Your glory, that of 
Your only-begotten Son and of Your Most Holy Spirit ; remember, 
immortal and munificent King, Your bounty and mercy, which 
are eternal ; do not disregard us, though contaminated by num- 
berless sins ; do not invalidate your covenant by reason of our 
un worthiness ; pass over our sins, strengthen us, and by Your grace 
and the descent of Your Holy and vivifying Spirit enable us to 
perform in blameless manner the consecration of this Your holy 
altar (these Your holy altars) ; so that on it (them) we may bless 
you with psalms and songs and with the divine mysteries, and 


forever glorify Your mercy. Yes, Lord our God, hope of the 
earth to its very confines, hear us sinners who pray to You ; let 
Your Most Holy, the adored and omnipotent Spirit descend ; 
consecrate this altar (altars) ; fill it (them) with eternal light, choose 
it (them) as your dwelling ; make of it (them) the tabernacle of 
Your glory, adorn it (them) with your divine and immense gifts ; 
appoint it (them) as a haven for the tempest-tossed, a remedy for 
the passions, a refuge for the homeless, a scourge of the demons ; 
let Your eyes be open on it (them) day and night, Your ears at- 
tentive to the prayers of those who come to it (them) with the fear 
and piety of God to invoke Your most Honorable Name, adored 
by all ; bring it to pass that everything they ask of You may be 
granted from heaven above ; have mercy and be compassionate ; 
keep it (them) firm to the very end of time ; make of this altar 
(these altars) the Holy of Holies by the strength and action of 
Your Holy Spirit. Glorify it (them) more than the Mercy-Seat of 
the law, that the sacred actions performed on it (on them) may 
reach right to Your holy, heavenly and spiritual holy altar, and 
there obtain that we be shadowed by your grace. We have con- 
fidence not in the ministry of our unworthy hands, but in your 
unspeakable benevolence. 

At the end of the prayer the Bishop rises and goes into the sanctuary 
toward the holy altar ; the sanctuary is closed and the protodeacon says 
inside the sanctuary : 

Deacon : Help and save us, have mercy on us and keeps us, O God, by Your 

Clergy : Lord, have mercy. 

Deacon : For peace from on high and the salvation of our souls, let us pray 

to the Lord ; 
Clergy : Lord, have mercy. 

Deacon : For the Holy Synod (or : for His Holiness the Patriarch N. N. and 
for the Holy Synod...) (or : for His Holiness the Universal Pontiff 
N. N., Pope of Rome and...) and for our Most Reverend (Arch) 
Bishop N. N. and the work of his hands, and the reverend clergy 
here with him, let us pray to the Lord. 

Clergy : Lord, have mercy. 

Deacon : That this altar (these altars) may be sanctified by the descent and 

the action of the Most Holy Spirit let us pray to the Lord. 
Clergy : Lord, have mercy. 

Deacon : For our government and all the armed forces, let us pray to the 

Clergy : Lord, have mercy. 


Deacon : For this city (village) (holy monastery), and for every city and 
country and those living in them in faith, let us pray to the Lord. 
Clergy: Lord, have mercy. 

Deacon : For our deliverance from all affliction, anger and need, let us pray 

to the Lord. 
Clergy : Lord, have mercy. 

Deacon : Commemorating our most holy, most pure, most blessed and 
glorious Lady, the Mother of God and ever-virgin Mary, and all 
the Saints, let us commend ourselves, one another, and our whole 
life to Christ our God. 

Clergy: To You, O Lord. 

Exclamation (by Bishop) : For holy are you, our God, who dwell in the 
midst of the Martyrs who suffered for You, and to You we ascribe 
glory, to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now 
and always and for ever and ever. 

Clergy : Amen. 

After the "Amen," the Deacon having invited : "Let us pray to the 
Lord," the Bishop, bowing before the "rodostamma" (rose water), recites 
the following prayer : 

Lord our God, who sanctified the waters of the Jordan with 
Your redeeming manifestation, do You now, the same Lord, send 
down the grace of Your Holy Spirit and bless this water for the 
consecration and completion of this Your Holy altar (of these 
holy altars) ; for You are blessed forever and ever. Amen. 

And he blesses with the sign of the cross the "Rodostamma" three 
times ; then he takes the vessel containing it and sprinkles some of it three 
times in the form of a cross on the antimensia, saying : 

In the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. 
Sprinkle me with hyssop and I shall be pure ; wash me and I shall 
be whiter than snow ; 

Saying this three times, he then adds the rest of psalm 50 to its end. 
And at the conclusion : Blessed is our God, now and ever and for all ages. 

Then he takes the vessel containing the sacred great Myron (chrism). 
While the deacon says : Alleluia three times the Bishop traces three crosses 
on each antimension with a brush dipped in sacred Myron ; one in the center 
and two at the sides, while psalm 132 ("Behold how good it is") is read in 
its entirety. As a "gloria," the Bishop says : Glory to You, Holy Trinity, 
our God, for all ages. The priests answer "Amen." 


If there are many antimensia, he does the same for each one and 
psalm 131 ("0 Lord remember David") is added. 

Then the Bishop goes to the table of prothesis with the priests, deacons 
and acolytes, and standing before the sacred relics says the following prayer : 

Deacon : Let us pray the Lord. 

Bishop : O Lord, our God, faithful to Your word and steadfast in Your pro- 
mises, who have accorded to Your holy martyrs the accomplishment 
of noble and glorious deeds, of fulfilling their mission of piety and of 
conserving a genuine confession of the faith ; You, O Most Hoi 
Lord, be entreated by their prayers and grant us, Your unworthy 
servants, to share an inheritance with them, that being followers 
of them we also may be partakers of the good things that await 

Exclamation : Through the mercy and love toward mankind of Your only- 
begotten Son, with whom You are blessed, together with Your 
all-holy, good and life-giving Spirit, now always and for ever 
and ever. Amen. 

Bishop : Peace be with all of you. 

Deacon : Bow your heads to the Lord. 

Bishop : O Lord our God, through the prayers of our most holy Lady, 
Mother of God, and of all Your saints, direct the works of the 
hands of us, Your unworthy servants, and grant that we may 
prove acceptable in all things to Your goodness. 

Exclamation : Blessed and glorified be the majesty of Your kingdom, of the 
Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, now and always 
and for ever and ever. Amen. 

After the prayer has been finished, the Bishop takes the diskos with 
the holy relics, covered with the "pokrov" (paten veil). Holding them 
on his head he makes an entrance, going from the North door of the 
Ikonostasis with the priests, the deacons, the acolytes, and the "ripidia" 
(liturgical fans). The' acolytes precede, then the deacons, with thuribles, 
incensing ; and they go up to the royal doors. As they enter the Troparion 
is sung : 

O Good One, who founded your church upon the rock of faith ; 
rightly direct our petitions in it, and accept the people who cry 
to you in faith : save us, O our God, save us. 

Before the royal doors the Bishop says in a loud voice : 
Lift up your gates, O Princes. 


And when the doors have been opened, the Bishop enters the sanctuary 
and circles the altar, singing : 

O holy martyrs, who fought the good fight and have received 
your crowns ; entreat the Lord that our souls may be saved. 

Glory to you, O Christ God, the Apostles' boast, the Martyrs' 
joy, whose preaching was the consubstantial Trinity, 

and places the paten on the altar ; then the thurible is given the Bishop 
who incenses the altar on all sides as he says psalm 25 : Judge me, O Lord... 
completely. Then he stands before the altar. 

Deacon : Let us pray the Lord. 

Bishop : O Lord of heaven and earth, who with unspeakable wisdom founded 
Your Holy Church, and appointed the Order of the Priesthood on 
earth as an antitype of the Angels' service in heaven ; receive 
also us, O munificent Lord, who now petition you, not as being 
worthy to ask such great things of You, but that the surpassing 
excellence of Your goodness may become known, for You have 
not ceased to be gracious in many ways to mankind. And, as the 
greatest of Your benefits, You bestowed upon us the coming in the 
flesh of Your Only-Begotten Son, who was seen upon earth, and 
shedding forth the light of salvation upon them that sat in darkness, 
offered himselfas a sacrifice for us, becoming a propitiation for the 
whole world and making us partakers of his Resurrection ; and after 
he ascended into heaven, He endowed His Apostles and Disciples, 
as He had promised, with power from heaven, which is the Holy 
Spirit, adored and almighty, who proceeds from You, our God and 
Father, through Whom, also, they became mighty in deed and 
word, administered Baptism unto the adoption of sonship, built 
churches, established altars and instituted the laws and precepts 
of the Priesthood. And we sinners, having preserved this tradition, 
fall down before You, the everlasting God, and implore You, O 
most merciful One ; fill With Your divine glory this church erected 
to Your praise and show forth Your holy Altar (Altars) set up 
in it as the Holy of Holies ; that we who stand around it (them), 
as before the awesome throne of your kingdom, may blamelessly 
serve you ; sending up to you petitions for ourselves and all the 
people, and offering the unbloody sacrifice to Your goodness, to 
the remission of sins both voluntary and involuntary, to the gov- 
erning of life, the attainment of good behavior, and the fulfillment 
of all righteousness. Peace be with all of you. 

28 3 

Deacon : Bow your heads unto the Lord. 

Bishop : We thank you, O Lord of Hosts, that you have graciously vouch- 
safed to continue also to us sinners and your unworthy servant-, 
because of Your great love for mankind, that grace which You 
poured out on your holy Apostles and upon out saintly fathers. 
Therefore we beg You, O all-merciful Lord, fill with glory and 
holiness and grace this Altar (altars), that the unbloody sacrifices 
which shall be offered on it (them) to You may be changed into 
the most pure Body and precious Blood of Your Only-Begotten 
Son, who is our Lord, and God, and Saviour, Jesus Christ, unto 
the salvation of all Your people, and of our un worthiness. 

Exclamation : You indeed are our God, God of mercy and of salvation, and 
to You we attribute glory, to the Father, Son, etc. 

After he has finished the prayer, the Bishop takes flat pieces of the 
wax-mastic, places relics on them, and pours on them the holy great Myron, 
and fixes them firmly with the wax-mastic in the pockets provided for them 
on the back of the antimension (antimensia). (A practical way to do this 
is to take a small disk of wax-mastic, place the particles of relics on it, anoint 
them with Holy Myron, and then fold up the disk so that the relics are en- 
closed in the wax-mastic before they are inserted into the pockets provided 
for them on the backs of the antimensia. They, are then firmly pressed so 
that they adhere to the antimensia. The pockets can later be sewn shut 
to make sure that the relics cannot fall out. 

Deacon : Let us pray the Lord. 

Bishop : O Lord our God, who has bestowed upon the holy Martyrs who 
suffered for your sake also this glory that their relics should be 
sewn far and wide over the earth, in Your holy churches, and 
should bring forth healing fruits ; do You, the same Master, who 
are the giver of all good things, through the intercession of the 
saints whose relics You have graciously permitted to be placed 
in this Your most honorable altar i these Your most honorable 
altars), enable us in a blameless manner to offer to You on it on 
them) the Unbloody Sacrifice ; and grant us all those petitions 
that are for our salvation, deigning also to the relics therein of 
those who have suffered for Your holy Name, that they may work 
miracles for our salvation. 

Exclamation : For Yours is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory, 
Father, Son, Holy Spirit, etc. 


After this the Bishop puts aside before the holy altar the savanon 
(apron) and towels with which he had been girded. Then he says : 

Let us depart in peace. 

He now leaves the sanctuary and stands at this usual place. According 
to the rubrics, the Hours and the Divine Liturgy begin. The antimensia 
must remain on the altar seven days and the Divine Liturgy is to be cele- 
brated on them each day. 2 Before the antimensia are distributed, they 
must be signed by the Bishop. 

2 Note that this rite is performed before the Divine Liturgy ; it can also be celebrated 
during the Divine Liturgy after the exclamation : "So that they also with us glorify..." 
but in general the "Cinovniki" (pontificate) and the "ustav" (ordo) prescribe that this rite 
be carried out before the Liturgy (and this is more fitting) according to the rite as here descri- 
bed, lest the course of the Divine Liturgy be interrupted or delayed. 


I. Outline of the Ceremony : 

I. Preparations : 

A. On a table behind or near Holy Table : container with handle 
for heating wax-mastic; ingredients of wax-mastic; 4 nails; 4 stones; 
towels; red wine; rose-water; perfume; sponges; a knife; 15 to 
20 meters of silk or cotton cord; plates; candles for the Priests 
to hold; a container of water to be blessed, and the Holy Water 
sprinkler; Container of Holy Myron, and brush. 

B. On another large table placed in the center of the Church are altar 
covers of Prothesis and Holy Table (inditij, sraciza, etc.), Chalice veils 
(Vozdukh, Pokrovci), the eiliton, Tabernacle, Altar Gospel Book, 
Hand-Cross, Chalice, Diskos, Asteriskos, Spear, Communion Spoon, 
plates, sponge for antimension, sponge to be kept in Chalice when 
not in use. 

C. Two lecterns (analoj) beside table B. with three blessed Ikons on 
them (Jesus, Mary, Titular of Church). 

D. The seven-branch Candelabra ; processional candles. 

E. Vestments for Concelebrants, Deacons, and Servers. Also aprons 
(zapony) to protect vestments of Concelebrants. Liturgical books. 

F. Veil (zavjesa) for Royal Gates. 2 thuribles. 

G. Table for the Artoklasia (Blessing of Bread, Oil, Wine, Wheat) at 
the Nocturnal Vigil, and which will later be used to hold the An- 
timension before the fixed Ikon of Christ during the night. 

II. Ceremony 

A. Preliminaries : Little Vespers and Nocturnal Vigil are celebrated 
in Church to be consecrated on the evening of the Vigil of the 
Consecration. In the morning, before the Consecration, the Anti- 
mension may be carried to the nearest Consecrated Church ; more 

usually, it is left before the Ikon of the Savior where it has rested 
during the night with a lamp burning before it, lying on a Diskos, 
covered by Asteriskos and Veil (Vozdukh). 

B. Blessing of Water : Concelebrants, Deacons, and Servers vest and 
Lesser Blessing of Water is performed. 

C. Construction of the Altar : Concelebrants put on aprons. First 
Celebrant sprinkles holy water on both sides of the mensa. Con- 
celebrants put mensa on its supports, wax-mastic is poured into 
the holes provided, excess scraped off with knife, nails pounded 
through holes to fasten mensa to supports, using stones for ham- 
mers. Psalm 22. 

D. Washing of the Altar (Holy Table) : 

i. W r ith warm water soap, dried with towels ; 
(2. With blessed mingled red wine and rose-water ;) 
3. It is dried with sponges. Psalm 83. 

E. Anointing of Holy Table with Holy Myron (Chrism) : First Priest 
anoints Altar in three places, i.e. the middle where the Altar Gospel 
will lie, and a bit below on either side where the Diskos and Chalice 
will stand during the Divine Liturgy.) 

F. Anointing of the Walls of the Church with Holy Myron : First 
Priest anoints walls with Holy Myron in the form of a Cross in 
the following order : The East Wall (Apse) above the elevated 
place (seats for Bishop and Priests), above the West Doors, on the 
North Wall and finally on the South Wall.) 

G. Vesting of Holy Table & Prothesis : Sracica of Holy Table is sprin- 
kled, placed over Holy Table, tied with cords. Inditija is sprinkled 
and Holy Table is vested with it. The furnishings of the Holy 
Table (except the Antimension) are placed on it. Prothesis is 
vested and its furnishings placed on it after each has been sprinkled 
with Holy Water. Psalm 92. 

H. Purification of the Sanctuary and Church : Sanctuary and Church 
are sprinkled with Holy Water and incensed by First Priest. He 
lights the altar candles. Psalm 25. 

I. Procession with Antimension : First Priest says "Let us depart in 
Peace." He and Concelebrants (carrying Ikons) procede from 
Sanctuary to place before fixed Ikon of Christ where the Anti- 
mension lies on a table. First celebrant incenses the Antimension 
and prostrates before it, picks up Diskos with Antimension and 
preceded by Clergy and People exits from Church and walks around 
outside of Church. Second Priest follows him sprinkling outside 


walls of Church with Holy Water. Troparia. Arriving back at 
outside doors of Church, First Celebrant deposits Antimension 
and Diskos on a small table prepared there with four candles at 
its corners. First Celebrant makes 3 prostrations to Antimension 
and chants : "You are Blessed, O Christ our God..." then dialog 
begun "Lift up your gates, O Princes..." Dialog interrupted as 
First Priest reads two prayers. Renewal of dialog. First Celebrant 
picks up Diskos with Antimension, traces a Sign of the Cross on 
the doors, then all enter Church. 
J. Enthronement of Antimension : First Celebrant goes directly into 
Sanctuary with Antimension and deposits it on the Holy Table, 
covers it with Gospel Book and incenses it. All kneel and he recites 
a prayer. 

K. Closing rites : All rise, First Priest, standing in the center of the 
Church, signs the cardinal points (E, W, S, N) with the Hand-Cross 
as Deacon incenses Cross. All come to kiss Cross and are sprinkled 
with Holy Water when they come up. The sponges used for the 
washing and drying of the Holy Table are cut into pieces and 
distributed as sacred souvenirs. 

L. The Divine Liturgy : The Hours are read and Divine Liturgy 
begins. It is celebrated in the newly consecrated Church each day 
for seven days. 

The Proper Day for the Consecration of a Church (either by a Priest 
or a Bishop) - It may be celebrated on any day except the following : 
(Because of Confusion of Officies) 

A. A Church may not be consecrated on the Feast Day to which the 
Church is dedicated. Interference and confusion would occur 
between the proper parts of the Office when the Feast Day and 
the Anniversary of Consecration were celebration simultaneously. 

B. A Church dedicated to the Resurrection may not be consecrated 
on a week-day. It must be consecrated on a Sunday, but however, 
not on the Sundays which fall during Lent or Pentecost, nor on 
which are always celebrated Feasts of the Mother of God, or of the 
Holy Fathers, or of the Martyrs. 

C. A Church dedicated to a Saint may not be consecrated on Feasts 
of the Savior or of the Mother of God, or of a great Saint whose 
Office has "polielej." 

D. Because of fasting prescriptions, Churches should not be conse- 
crated during Lents or on a day of fast. 


2. The Ceremony in full 1 : 

At the consecration of a church performed by a priest the same rites 
are celebrated, with slight variations, as prescribed for the consecration 
when carried out by a bishop. 

The following list has been compiled of things indispensable for the 
consecration of a church as performed by a priest : The superior, or Rector, 
with his clergy in attendance for the consecration of the church, must have 
the following items ready for the day of the consecration : a small casserole 
of copper for the wax-mastic, the handle of which must be wrapped in cloth 
so as not to burn the hands ; 500 gms. of yellow wax and 50 gms. of each 
of the following materials : mastic, plain incense and rose-incense, and aloes, 
all ground up ; four nails ; four stones ; five or more towels ; two bottles of 
red wine, one for the consecration ceremony, the other for the Eucharist 
and for the teplota of the celebrants ; a bottle of rose-water ; some phials 
of perfume ; six "greek" sponges, one for the antimension, one for the chalice, 
and the others for the consecration ceremony ; a clean table knife ; a cord 
of silk or of cotton, 15 to 20 meters, a second one of the size of the altar ; 
the two small plates usually used for the antidoron for presenting to the 
celebrant all the ingredients indicated above for the consecration of the 
altar ; 15 to 20 candles for the priests to hold, of the kind used for the noc- 
turnal vigil, to be used for the consecration of the water and that of the 
church at the proper moment ; a receptacle for the blessing of the water, 
of not too large a size, and the sprinkler. All the above-mentioned items 
are to be placed on a table arranged at the rear of the altar, where this is 
possible. Further, on the day of the consecration itself, some tepid water 
in any sort of a container must be placed on this same table. 

On another large table, covered with a white cloth and placed in the 
center of the church, must be arranged the utensils of the prothesis table 
and of the altar, in the following order : at the left half of the table are placed, 
crossed, the cover of the prothesis, on top of this the sradica of the prothesis ; 
on top of all this the cover of the altar, the inditij and the sradica and above 
this the vozdukhi (chalice veils) and the eiliton. Then at the right half of 
the table : the tabernacle, the gospel, the cross, the chalice, the diskos (paten), 
the asteriskos, the spear, the little spoon, the small plates, the sponges for 
the antimension and the one which is kept in the chalice. Finally, this table 
is to be covered with a white and diaphanous material, like muslin, of which 
there will be necessary two and a half meters in length and two in width, 

1 Translated from Nikolskij, USTAV, pp. 815-823. 


according to the size of the table. Alongside this table are arranged two 
analoj (lecterns) and above them three blessed ikons, of the Savior, of the 
Mother of God, and a smaller one of the titular Saint of the church ; then 
the seven-branch candelabra, if there is one, and other movable candelabra, 
two, four, six, eight, or as many as are desired. Before the consecration 
of the church these are to be removed, to be brought into use only during 
the nocturnal vigil, to give more light and added solemnity to the church, 
since no lights are placed before the fixed ikons not yet blessed ; and the 
celebrants carry out the nocturnal vigil not in the sanctuary but in the 
center of the church at the above-mentioned place in front of the covered 
table and with the holy doors closed. Further, one must prepare the priestly 
and diaconal vestments according to the number of the celebrants ; for in 
the consecration from three to six, or eight, priests may participate. Thus, 
for example : during the procession inside the church the Superior carries 
the holy antimension ; the following two priests accompany him, supporting 
his arms ; the next two carry the cross and the gospel ; the next, the ikons 
of the Savior and of the Mother of God ; besides these priests there should 
be another who precedes the procession, sprinkling the church and the people. 
The Liturgy can be celebrated with three or five. There must be four deacons ; 
one stays with the Superior, another holds the wax-mastic, another carries 
the blessed water, while still another presents each ingredient for the con- 
secration ceremony. When there are not enough deacons, then the psalomsciki 
(minor clerics) can be invited to these functions ; besides these three servers 
wearing "stichars" are needed : one to present the thurible, another to read 
the Hours, the third to hold the book for the Superior during the conse- 
cration. Chanters are also required. There is need of zapony (aprons) for 
the priests according to the number of celebrants, the zavjesa (curtain) for 
the Royal doors, and another curtain of simple cloth for near the west doors... 
This last can be adjusted on a wire or a silk cord in the church ; otherwise, 
follow the prescriptions of Trebnik. Some copies of the sluzebnik (missal) 
are to be prepared for priests and also a complete series of the Office books ; 
two thuribles, a lantern for the procession, two deacons' candles, the holy- 
water sprinkler, and from three to five seats. Besides the tables for the 
blessing of the breads (during the vigil service), that will have to be used 
also during the consecration to hold the antimension when they will carry 
it into the church and place it in front of the curtain, another small table 
{analoj) is needed to hold the Holy Antimension which, during the cele- 
bration of the nocturnal vigil, will be placed in the church in front of the 
nocturnal vigil, will be placed in the church in front of the fixed ikon of 
the Savior. In the morning, before the blessing of the water, at the sound 

20 - J. M. - The Antimension 


of the bell, the Holy Antimension in carried by the priest, accompanied 
by the deacon and preceded by candlebearers, to the nearest consecrated 
church, if there is one ; otherwise it is left in the place indicated above, 
that is, before the fixed ikon of the Savior till the time of the procession. 
The Holy antimension is to be placed on the diskos, and then covered with 
the diskos veil and the asteriskos ; before it all during the night a lamp is 
to burn ; the sracica and the vestments of the altar and of the prothesis 
should have been adapted to them in due time according to their dimensions ; 
one must be sure that the crosses have been sewn on, and also that the altar 
has been made according to the rubrics, with the grooves for the nails at 
the corners and for the strings on the edges ; the same for the prothesis. 
The altar is made about one meter high, while in length and width it will 
be in proportion to the sanctuary and the holy doors. In the morning, before 
the bell rings, the wax-mastic is prepared. For this one takes the above- 
indicated amount of yellow wax, melts it over a fire and adds to it all that 
was indicated above, well ground ; but the mixture is not allowed to boil 
too long, so as not to escape (boil over) the casserole. In the rite of the con- 
secration of a church performed not by the Bishop, but by a priest, there 
is no mention either of red wine or of perfumed liquids when it treats of 
the wax mastic, but since these items are of common use and well fit the 
meaning of the altar as the Sepulchre of Christ and Golgotha sprinkled with 
the blood and water from the pierced side of Christ, they can be used also 
in the consecration of a church performed by a priest (Bullettin of the Bishop 
of Vladimir, 1876). 

Exactly as for the consecration performed by a Bishop, on the vigil 
Little Vespers and the Nocturnal Vigil are carried out in the newly constructed 
church. In front of the holy doors, on a table covered with a white cloth, 
the following items are arranged : the Holy Gospel, the Venerable Cross, 
the sacred vessels, the small spoon, the lance the small and large veils for 
the diskos and chalice, the small cords for tying the altar, the nails for the 
altar, the sponges, all the altar and "prothesis" covers and decorations, and 
at the corners of the table four lighted candles. 2 In front of the fixed ikon 
ot the Savior, near the royal doors, the already consecrated Holy Antimen- 
sion, on a diskos and covered with a vozdukh (large veil), 23 is placed on a 

1 It is not perfectly clear why Nikolskij repeats, with some changes, the instructions 
given' above as to this table and what has to be set out on it. Probably he is collating from 
different sources. 

2a Nikolskij vacillates between covering the diskos with its proper veil (the pokrov) 
or with the larger veil (vozdukh, Aer) ; it is of little importance, and whichever is more con- 
venient should be used. 


table or lectern. A candle burns before it. In the sanctuary, on a special 
table near the throne, are arranged : sprinkler and four stones to be used 
as hammers for fixing the nails. 

On the day of the consecration itself, exactly as for the consecration 
performed by a Bishop, the "lesser" blessing of the water is celebrated (as 
found in Trebnik). All the celebrants vest themselves. After the blessing 
of the Holy Water, the priests put on, over the sacred vestments, a special 
linen cloth piece or "zapon" (apron). Vested in this way they take water 
in a vessel, the venerable cross and the table with everything necessary for 
the consecration, and they carry it into the sanctuary through the royal 
doors and they deposit it at the right side of the altar. The royal doors are 
now closed. The celebrants gird themselves to fix (permanently place) the al- 
tar. While doing this the priest does not pronounce those prayers recited by the 
Bishop at the construction of the altar. These prayers have already been 
recited by the Bishop when he consecrated the antimension. The priests 
take up the wooden mensa (altar top). The Superior sprinkles the mensa 
on both sides along with the supports, saying nothing, and then the mensa 
is fastened well. The mensa is placed on the supports as psalm 144 is 
chanted, "I will exalt you, O Lord my God." Then at the corners of the 
mensa in the holes already prepared for the nails on the supports, the wax- 
mastic is poured, and then the excess is scraped off with the knives. During 
this is sung psalm 22 "The Lord is my shepherd." Then the four nails are 
brought, placed on the altar and sprinkled with holy water ; after which 
they are put into the holes prepared for them in the mensa. The four stones 
are then brought. The superior and the other celebrants nail down the mensa 
using the stones as hammers. 3 When the altar is firmly fixed the washing 
of it is carried out. 

The washing of the altar with luke-warm water is performed in the 
following way : the priests, having poured some of the water on the table, 
spread it about with their hands and then soap it somewhat. Again they 
pour on more of the water to rinse away the soap and then they dry the 
altar with towels. They now bring the red wine, the rose-water and the 
sponges and after having sprinkled everything with holy water, 4 the Superior 
pours the wine and the water on a plate or in any other vessel ; this he then 
pours, it, in the form of a cross, at the center of the mensa, and at its sides, 
a little below the middle. With him the priests spread this with their hands 
over all the altar and then dry it completely with the sponges. Meanwhile 

* These stones are then placed beneath the altar where they will remain always (ed.). 

* I.e. the Priest blesses the wine, rose-water, and sponges (ed.). 


psalm 83 is sung, "How lovely, O Lord, are your tabernacles I" The washing 
of the altar as performed in times past with rose-water and red wine has 
been abrogated, as also the anointing of the altar and the walls of the church 
with Sacred Myron (Ukase of the Sacred Synod of July 18, 1733) ; although 
this was all prescribed in the patriarchal epoch 5 in Russia. 

Psalms 144, 22 and 83 are not chanted when the Bishop consecrates 
the antimension apart from the church ; the psalms are chanted when the 
Bishop consecrates the church. 6 

There is a small book printed in the patriarchal epoch, 7 entitled : 
"Office {Akolutia), how the Bishop consecrates the antimensia, and how the 
priest celebrates on them in churches where there are no relics." The book 
has been translated from the Greek Euchologion manuscript of the Most 
Holy Lord Paisios, Father and Patriarch of Alexandria and Judge of the 
Universe. In this little book there is found an office for the consecration 
of a church, called "little consecration," because the antimension is conse- 
crated with great consecration by the Bishop. The small book that contains 
the office and the rites is printed in quarto ; has sixteen pages, has no in- 
dications of where or when it was printed. In the book there is mention 
of the patriarch (N.N.) in the litany and of our pious and God-preserved 
Tzar (N.N.). In it are found exactly the same rites for the consecration 
of the animensia and of their deposition in the church, that are contained in 
the later editions, for example, that of Cinovnik printed in Moscow in 1798, 
and in the Great Trebnik printed at Kiev in 1862. In this small book, as 
in the Trebnik, one reads : "The priests take the mensa of the altar, the Supe- 
rior sprinkles with holy water the supports, or the one support, without saying 
anything, and the mensa is then firmly fixed as is becoming, and is washed 
with luke-warm water, dried, and again sprinkled with holy water." In this 
book there is then added : "And it is sprinkled with rodostamnon (rose water), 
if there is any, and also with wine ; with wine only if there is no rodostamnon. 
Further, the first priest anoints the sacred table of the altar with Myron (chrism). 
After the recitation of psalms 144, 22 and 83, this book goes on to say : "The 
holy table of the altar is anointed with sacred Myron in this manner: A cross 
is traced at the middle of the altar and at the four corners, one cross for 
each place. 8 " After the words that are found in the Trebnik : "furthermore 

5 Nikolskij writes in 1900 between the time Tzar Peter the Great abolished the Pa- 
triarcharte of Moscow in 1721 and its restoration after the Bolshevik revolution in 1917, 
and thus he refers to the epoch previous to 1721 (ed.). Nikolskij will return again to the theme 
of whether or not the Priest may anoint the altar and the walls with Holy Myron (ed.). 

• The rationale for saying these psalms now (ed.). 

7 Cfr. above, footnote 5, (ed.). 

8 Almost all the Euchologia, Cinovniki and Trebniki prescribe 3 anointings, not five, 
on the mensa. Cfr. above footnote 84, p. 76 (ed.). 


the sanctuary and the entire church are spinkled with holy water," in the 
little book there is added : "and they are anointed with holy Myron, the 
first unction on the east part of the sanctuary, above the elevated place, 
the second time above the west doors, the third time above the east doors, 
on the walls in the form of a cross." After the words of the Trebnik : "and 
having arrived at the great doors on the west, standing and turned toward 
the east," in the book there is added : "he places the Holy antimension 
on the column." A similar indication is found in the Trebnik printed in 
1677 under the Patriarch Joachim (see my book, On the antimensia of the 
of the Russian Orthodox Church, 1872, pp. 59, 60), The Synod of Moscow 
of 1667 decreed that at the consecration of a church performed by an Archi- 
mandrite or by an Hegumenos or by an Archpriest or by a Priest, the altar 
is anointed with holy Myron (Acts of the Synod of Moscow, 1666 and 1667, 
Fraternity of St. Peter, Folio 63, on the reverse side), probably on the basis 
of the fact that the priest anoints with sacred Myron also at Baptism. 9 
But afterwards, when in the Trebnik this anointing was no longer mentioned, 
and when a rural dean proposed the following query : "when a priest con- 
secrates a church is it lawful for him to anoint the walls and the holy altar 
with sacred Myron ?," the Synod, basing itself on the fact that the Trebnik 
does not prescribe this anointing (it is not indicated in which Trebnik this 
is not prescribed), decreed in 1733 that it is not licit for a priest to anoint 
the altar with sacred Myron in the consecration of a church, and more 
precisely : "do not anoint the walls of the sanctuary and of the church ; 
likewise do not anoint even the 'mensa' of the altar" (Complete Collection 
of the Decrees and Dispositions under the Direction of the Russian Imperial 
Historical Institute, t. VIII, n. 2727, pag. 113). When the Bishop himself 
consecrates the church, an Archimandrite or an Hegumenos or a priest as- 
sisting him anoints the walls with sacred Myron. But normally even today 
the consecration of a church by a priest is performed in the same manner. 10 
After being washed and sprinkled with holy water, the altar is com- 
pletely vested, in the same way as at the consecration of a church by a Bishop. 
First of all, the sradica is sprinkled with holy water inside and out, as also 
the small cords which are stretched over the sradica. The altar is tied 
"simply" with these cords and not in the manner used by a Bishop at 

9 Nikolskij thus argues that if a Priest can anoint a person with Myron at Baptism 
(i.e. the Sacrament of Confirmation after Baptism), then a Priest should be able to anoint 
the Church which he is consecrating. This argument may either stem from the fact that 
the Mystery (Sacrament) of Baptism and of Confirmation (Chrismation) is superior in sa- 
credness to the Consecration of a Church, or because of the similarity between the imparting 
of the Sacraments of Initiation and the Consecration of a Church. Cfr. above, footnote 67, 
p. 71 (ed.). 

10 I.e. a Priest consecrating a Church does anoint mensa and walls with Holy Myron. 
Cfr. De Meester, Rituale-Benedizionale Bizantino, p. 199 (ed.). 


the consecration of a church. 11 (Great Trebnik) ; Generally the first priest 
holds the ends of the cord and after the deacon has circled the altar 
three times in the manner of a cincture, he makes a knot at the right 
support of the altar. (Supplementary Trebnik) ; While the altar is being 
vested with the sradica and the small cord, psalm 131 is chanted ; then the 
vesting of the altar takes place after the sprinkling with holy water of the 
inditija during the chanting of psalm 92. (Gr. Trebnik). Then the Gospel 
and the Hand-Cross are placed on the altar. After the altar has been com- 
pletely vested, the prothesis table is likewise entirely vested after it has been 
sprinkled with Holy Water. On the prothesis are deposited the sacred vessels 
after they have been blessed with Holy Water and then the prothesis is covered 
with a cloth. Then the priests put of their aprons and the royal doorsare opened. 
The first priest sprikles the sanctuary and the entire church with holy water 
and incenses the sanctuary and the entire church, while psalm 25 is chanted : 
"Judge me, O Lord..." (At the consecration of a church performed by a 
priest, the walls are not anointed with sacred Myron, nor even the altar). 12 
After the sanctuary and the entire church have been sprinkled and incensed, 
the first priest re-enters the sanctuary. They present him a candlestick 
with a new candle, not lighted. He lights it himself and places it on an 
elevated place near the altar. Then the first celebrant says : "Let us depart 
in peace," and takes the ikons, as normally in processions ; then he incenses 
everything around the Holy Antimension already consecrated, which has been 
previously deposited near the ikon of the Savior on a lectern, on the diskos 
and covered with the asteriskos and the diskos veil ; the puts it on his head 
and preceded by the procession exits from the Church and walks completely 
around the outside of it, in a counter-clockwise direction. 13 

11 I.e. not in the form of a St. Andrew's Cross on each of the four sides of the Altar 
as when a Bishop consecrates the Altar (ed.). 

12 If the altar and walls are nevertheless to be anointed with Holy Myron as Nikolskij 
seems to argue above. Cfr. footnotes 9 and 10, page 293, then the first Priest anoints and the 
second Priest follows sprinkling the Holy Water. Various Ritual Books prescribe different 
places for the walls to be anointed, e.g. the walls, the columns, etc. (ed.). 

13 Arrived near the antimension and having incensed it, the first celebrant makes a 
prostration to the floor before the antimension, along with the other celebrants who have 
entered the sanctuary. Into the sanctuary of the church where the Holy Antimension was 
first placed, enter only the principal celebrants, that is, the first, the two who follow him 
(priests) and the deacon with the book, and all the others remain near the royal doors. In 
the sanctuary the deacon recites the "Little Litany", "Paki i paki..." After the litany, the 
ekphonesis : "For you are holy, our God, who dwell among the martyrs who have suffered 
for you and to you we attribute praise, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and always and for 
ever and ever." Chanters : "Amen", and sing the troparia : "You who have established 
the Church on the rock of the faith..." "Holy Martyrs..." and "Glory to you, Christ God...", 
twice, and even more if necessary. The first celebrant with the same celebrants as before 
makes another prostration to the floor and putting the Holy Antimension on his head re- 


The second celebrant, following (preceding, in the rite performed by 
a Bishop) the first celebrant who is carrying the antimension, sprinkles the 
outside of the church with holy water. (Great Trebnik, cap. 107). During 
the procession the chanters sing the troparia : "You who have established 
the Church on the rock of the faith"... "Holy Martyrs"... "Glory to you, 
Christ God..." Arrived at the great western doors, the first celebrant takes 
the diskos from his head and deposits it on the table prepared for it in front 
of the royal doors. At the corners of the table are four lighted candles. There 
the celebrant makes three prostrations, and turning toward the East says, 
as he stands facing the holy relics (antimension) : "You are blessed, Christ 
our God, now and forever more" ; the chanters answer "Amen" as they 
enter the sanctuary. The first celebrant says : "Lift up your gates, o princes, 
lift up, o eternal gates, and the King of Glory will enter in," and the chanters 
sing the question only once : "Who is this King of Glory ?". Then the proto- 
deacon says : Let us pray the Lord. The chanters : Lord, have mercy. The 
first celebrant reads in a loud voice the prayer : "God and Father of our 
Lord..." (Hapgood, op. cit., pp. 506-507). Then, while all bow, he secretly 
recites the entrance prayer : "Sovereign Lord, our God." (Hapgood, op cit., 
p. 507). Both these prayers are the same as recited by a Bishop in the con- 
secration of a church. After reciting the prayer, the first celebrant says, 
in response to the question of the chanters : "The Lord of hosts, he is the 
King of Glory." The chanters make the same interrogation and the first 
celebrant answers again : "The King of hosts, he..." and traces a cross with 
the antimension (on the diskos), on the doors of the church ; then he enters 
the church. After his entrance into the church, the chanters sing the troparion 
"As the splendid firmament on high, so have you shown the beauty of the 
holy dwelling of your glory, o Lord." The first celebrant enters the sanctuary 
with the antimension, deposits it on the altar, and places the Holy Gospel 
over it ; and having incensed it, at the invitation of the deacon who says 
"Again and again bending the knee, we pray the Lord," kneels and reads 
the prayer - one of those two prayers the Bishop says when he performs the 
consecration of the church, and precisely : "Lord, our God, who has created 
everything by only a word..." (Cfr. Hapgood, op. cit., pp. 509-510). After 
the ekphonesis of the first celebrant, "Because you are holy..." he takes the 

turns in procession to the consecrated church. Before the procession leaves the consecrated 
church the bells are rung (perezvon), and after they have left the church the "beautiful tone" 
(krasnyj zvon) ; hen the celebrants enter the second church to get the antimension a fe- 
res zvon is rung ; and during the procession of return to the consecrated church, the bells 
are rung again. (Diocese of Vladimir, Instruction of 1875). (The preceding is Nikolskij's 
own footnote § 1 ; "peres2von" and "krasnyj 2von" refer to particular peals of the church 
bells - ed.). 


cross in hand, and standing erect in the middle of the church, he makes the 
sign of the cross with it to the four sides : east, west, south and north. During 
this, the deacon incenses the cross as is normally done in processions. He 
says : "We pray the Lord." The clergy chant (the people to themselves) : 
"Lord, have mercy" three times, when the first celebrant signs each of the 
four cardinal points. The celebrant kisses the venerable cross, followed in 
this by the other celebrants, and he sprinkles them with Holy Water. The 
people kiss the cross as he holds it, and he sprinkles the people with holy 
water and begins the Hours. 

In a newly-consecrated church there is normally a seven-day cele- 
bration. In the Cinovnik we read : "The antimension lies on the altar for 
seven days, the Divine Liturgy being celebrated on it every day." (Cinovnik, 
Rite of the Consecration of the antimension, toward the end). 14 

In the Great Trebnik it is likewise indicated on what days one may 
consecrate a churhc. The most common rules for the choice of the day for the 
consecration are the following : The consecration of a church is not to take 
place on the Feast of a Saint or of the Mystery to which the church is to be 
dedicated ; nor is it permitted to consecrate a church on those days, so as 
not to confuse the office of the consecration of the church with that of the 
titular, which has its proper feast. 15 Excepted are churches consecrated to 
the Resurrection of Christ. Churches consecrated to the Resurrection of 
Christ cam be consecrated only on Sunday, "but on ferial days they can not 
be consecrated, because the Sunday office is not becomingly chanted on a 
week-day." (Great Trebnik, Chapter 106). For the rest, even the consecration 
of a church to the Resurrection is not permitted on just any Sunday what- 
soever : On a Sunday during the time of Pentecost and of Lent, on those 
Sundays on which are always celebrated Feasts of the holy Fathers and of 
the Sainted Martyrs, and Feasts of Our Lady, the consecration of a church 
to the Resurrection is not permitted, nor to other titles, "because there 
would be a great clash between the stichira, the Slavnik, the canons, and the 
stichira of Lauds. Therefore, "do not consecrate a church that has as titular 
a Saint, on the great Feasts of the Lord or of Our Lady, or of the great Saints 

14 This is said, we well understand, in the Cinovnik, of the antimensia consecrated 
by the Bishop during the consecration of the church, and which will serve for oth erchurches. 
(Cfr. my book On the Antimensia, pag. 38). (Nikolskij's footnote § 2). 

16 If there occurs a feast of the Lord or of Our Lady or of a Saint on any day whatsoever 
of the year, then on that day the church absolutely cannot be consecrated in their honor. 
It can be consecrated on the day previous or following, but not on that day at all. And 
afterwards, celebrate apart the feast of the consecration (anniversary) and that of the ti- 
tiular, because both must be celebrated on that fixed day without any impediment. (Great 
Trebnik, Chapter 107). (Nikolskij's footnote § 3). 


that have Polielej. "During the Great Lent and on days of fast, we do not 
consecrate any church because of the quality of food, since we do not dispense 
either from fish, or from wine or oil." 

The Great Consecration of a church takes place not only after its 
construction, but also : i) when it has been contaminated by invasion of 
pagans or heretics ; 2) when the altar has been damaged or put out of line 
by some reconstruction or renovation. 16 

16 In the Euchologia and Trebniki there exsist special blessings to cover these exi 
gencies. Cfr. De Meester, Rituale-Benedizionale Bizantino, pp. 224-232. 

j \ J Dal Vaticano, li 2I4 . Febbra io... l^J 

diSuaSantita e Rev. mo Signor Mio, 
L f Signor Cardinals Segretario della S. Congregazione "pro 
Ecclesia Orientall" mi comunica che con Rapporto N. Iij.l3/i;2 del 18 
dicembre 19ij.2 l' Delegato Apostolico a Washington ha riferito 
avere 1 'Arcivescovo Monsignor Francis J. Spellman, nella sua qualita 
di Vicario Militare per le Forze Armate degli Stati Uniti, espresso 
il desiderio che venga concesso ai Cappellani Militari di quella Con- 
federazione "il privilegio dell'uso dell 'antimensio anziche della 
pietra sacra nella celebrazione della S, Messa; questo privilegio, 
secondo lo stesso Consignor Spellman, sarebbe stato concesso dalla 
Santa Sede ai Cappellani Militari della Gran Bretagna, per la durata 
della guerra". 

Quest 'ultima affermazione non e esatta; al Vicario Castrense bri. 
tannico,- infatti, fu soltanto accordata - come ebbi l'onore di comu= 
nicare all'Eminenza Vostra Reverendisslma con Foglio N. 783O/24.2 del 
3 novembre 19i^2 - la facolta di perraettere ai Cappellani militari. di 
sostituire, per gli a 1 tar i_da _campo , alia pietra sacra un velo con 
incluse e bene assicurate alcune autentiche SS. Reliquie. 

Lascio pertanto all'Eminenza Vostra di giudicare se convenga ac- 

A Sua Emlnenza Reverendissima 
Prefetto della S. Congregazione dei Riti 

cordare l ! identica facolta anche all ! Vicario Xilitare delle 
Forze Annate degli Stati Uniti in favore del Cappeliani sottoposti 
alia sua giurisdizione . Gradirei di essere informato dell 1 even tuale 
concessione . 

BaciandoLe umilissimamente le mani, mi onoro prof essarmi, con 
sensi del piti profondo ossequio, 

di Vostra Eminenza Reverendissima 
Fail .mo Dev. mo Servitor vero 


Prot. N. 

Sacra Congregatio pro Ecclesia Orientali, vigore facultatum a 

Ssmo Domino Nostro Divina Providentia 

Pp sibi tributarum, benigne concedit Excmo P. D. 

ob praeclara merita erga Ecclesias orientales, privilegium personale utendi, 
in celebratione Missae, antimensio, loco petrae sacrae, non tantum in 
ecclesiis orientalis ritus, sed etiam extra, quotiescumque aliquod habeatur 
incommodum ex usu petrae sacrae, uti in itinere ; dummodo ritus latinus 
in ceteris integre servetur, corporali quoque supra ipsum antimensium 

Eadem facultas, praesentibus litteris, conceditur uni vel duobus 

sacerdotibus, qui, in iisdem adiunctis, Excmum P. D 


Contrariis minime obstantibus. 

Datum Romae, ex Aedibus Sacrae Congregationis pro Ecclesia 
Orientali, die mensis anno 

Sacra Coxgregatio pro Ecclesia Orientali, vigore facultatum a Domino Nostro Divina Providentia . 

Pp. , sibi tributarum, benigne concedit R 

ob praeclara merita erga Ecclesias orientales. pri\ilegium personale utendi, 
in celebratione Missae, antimensio, loco petrae sacrae, non tantum in 
ecclesiis orientals ritus, sed etiam extra, quotiescumque aliquod habeatur 
incommodum ex usu petrae sacrae, uti in itinere ; dummodo ritus latinus 
in ceteris integre ser\ T etur, corporate quoque supra ipsum antimensium 

Contrariis minime obstantibus. 

Datum Romae, ex Aedibus Sacrae Congregationis pro Ecclesia 
Orientali, die mensis anno 


(Taken from Phillip T. Weller, The Roman Ritual (Complete Edition), 
Milwaukee : The Bruce Pubblishing Company, 1964, pp. 533-544) : 


which by a special Apostolic indult may be used in the celebration of Mass 
in mission territories, in place of an altar-stone or portable altar. (Approved 
by the Congregation of Sacred Rites, March 12, 1947). 

The Bishop (or a priest delegated for this), having ascertained the 
authenticity of the relics of holy martyrs to be used here, encloses them 
in a tiny sack which is sewn in the right corner of the antimension. Then 
he blesses the antimension, saying : 

B. : Our help is in the name of the Lord. 
All : Who made heaven and earth. 
B. : The Lord be with you. 
All : May He also be with you. 
Let us pray. 

Lord, we humbly appeal to your sovereignty, asking that it please you 
to bless ►£< this antimension, made ready by our lowly ministry to receive 
the offerings of your people. For on it we are to offer the Holy Sacrifice 
to you, to the honor of the blessed Virgin Mary and all the saints, and in 
particular to the honor of Saints N. and N., whose relics we have enclosed 
therein. Grant that by these sacred mysteries the bonds of our sins be loosed, 
our stains blotted out, pardon obtained and graces acquired, so that together 
with you holy elect we may merit the joys of everlasting life through Christ 
our Lord. 

All : Amen. 

He sprinkles it with holy water. 


Roma, 20 Ottobre 1967. 

Prot.n. 0.82/967. 

Rev. Padre, 

In riferimento agli interrogativi che Lei, Rev. Padre, 
ha proposto a questa Sacra Congregazione dei Riti, intorno al- 
1 , Antimensio latino » ecco quanto possiamo brevemente dirLe al 
riguardo, tenuto conto della prassi vigente : 

1°.- Poiche l'Antimensio latino e soltanto benedetto , ne con- 
segue che non si pud parlare di "sconsacrazione" del medesimo. 

2°.- II detto Antimensio , senza far ricorso al Vescovo, pud es 
sere lavato : dopo averne tolto le reliquie, che vi verranno poi 

3°.- Nel caso di lacerazione parziale,puo essere da chiunque 

4-°.- Lo stesso Antimensio cessa infine la sua funzione, allor 
che, secondo la comune estimazione, si rendera "inservibile" : a 
causa per esempio di lacerazioni multiple e non piu decorosamen- 
te riparabili; in tal caso e owio che rimane l'obbligo del re- 
cupero delle reliquie. 

Colgo 1' occasions per ossequiarLa distintamente. 

Dev. mo in Domino 

Rev. Padre 

Pontificio Ateneo Antoniano 
Via Merulana 124 

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Bishop Andrew 

John Bucko 

John Bucko 

Bishop Nicholas 
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July 20 

Sept. 4 

Oct. 4 

Jan. 12 

April 29 

Dec. 8 

Feb. 27 


Byz. Rite 




















I. The use of the Antimension in the Byzantine Divine Liturgy. The Antimension 
lies folded in its eileton under the Gospel Book at the beginning of the Liturgy. 

2. After the Gospel is read the Gospel Book is placed standing on the altar. Anti- 
mension still folded in eileton. 

21 J. M, Izzo - The Antimension 

3. During the Liturgy of Fervent Supplication ("Insistant Litany") the eileton is 
fully unfolded, and the antimension is unfolded except for the upper part. Relic 
pouch visible as dark spot. 

4. At end of the Litany of the Catechumens, the antimension is fully unfolded. At 
Great Entrance, the Elements of Bread and Wine are carried to the Holy Table 
for the anaphora — from left to right — Chalice ; diskos (paten) with large host 
("Lamb") and Commemoratory particles, surmounted by asteriskos ; antimension 
sponge visible as white roughly-triangular object. 

5- Latin petra sacra or portable altar stone ; the circle at right is stone cover of "se- 
pulcher" containing relics. It has been anointed with Holy Chrism on the five 
incised crosses. Material — white marble ; size — 6" X6" X5/8" (15X15X16 cm.); 
sepulcher-round, 1" (2.5 cm.) in diameter; weight 2.2 lbs. (1 kilo). 

An altar "ad modum fixi" - wooden 
altar painted to imitate marble) 
with portable altar stone inserted. 

7. Byzantine Antiniension used on a Latin "ad modum fixi" stable altar, under three 
altar cloths (which have been folded back to show antimension). 

8. Detail of photograph 6 - altar cloths rolled back to show wooden mensa with petra 
sacra inserted in recess so that it is flush with surface of mensa. Dark square in 
center is stone cover of "sepulcher." Visible at the corners of petra sacra are dark 
stains where it was anointed with Chrism and incense burned on it during conse- 
cration ceremony. No incised crosses. 

The Latin Antimensium. The triangle in corner is relic-pocket. In the opposite 
corner a cross has been embroidered (not prescribed). This Antimension was 
obtained in 1968 from the Vicariate of Rome, blessed by Archbishop Ferdinand 
Card. Antonelli, O.F.M., Secretary of the Sacred Congregation of Rites. 

The relics removed for washing of Latin Antimensium. The relics, in their paper 
packet (s) visible near corner of antimensium. 

XI. The wooden High Altar in the Roman Pontiff's Cathedral Church, the Arch- 
basilica of St. John Lateran. The wooden surface, as well as the front of the 
wooden altar (with the cross-bar of the incised cross), is visible in its protective 
casing of marble. 

12. Close-up of surface of wooden altar - bands are to fasten altar down ; they have 
wax seals (faintly visible at center right) to insure its authenticity. 







13. The wooden portable altar tablet of the other (non-Byzantine) Oriental rites. A 
Catholic Syrian Rite "tablit" with inscription in Syriac : "The Holy Trinity has 
consecrated this tablit in the year N.X. by the hands of the Bishop X.X." It 
does not contain relics ; it is used also on consecrated fixed altars. 

14. A Catholic Coptic Rite "thysiaste 
rion" or "tabot" with inscription 
in Coptic-Greek characters : "Jesus 
Christ, Son of God." It is without 
relics, and is used also on consecra- 
ted fixed altars. 

15- A dissident Ethiopian rite "tabot" with inscription in Geez dedicating it to Jesus 
Christ and to the Saints in whose honor it was consecrated. It does not contain 
relics and is used also on the consecrated fixed altar. 

1 6. Reverse of same. 

Various printed Byzantine Antimensia. A Russian Orthodox Antimension con- 
secrated in the time of Empress Catherine the Great (whose name appears in 
the inscription) by Timofei, Metropolitan of Moscow and Siezsk, 1764. Material - 
white taffeta ; printed with black ink. 

Russian Orthodox Antimension consecrated in 1865 by Bishop Antony of Smolensk 
and Dorogobush. Dark blue silk ; black printing. 

19- Russian Orthodox Antimension consecrated in 1881 by Bishop Juvenali. Violet 
silk with black printing. 

20. Russian Orthodox Antimension consecrated September 4, 1967, by Metropolitan 
Pimen (Izebekov) of Krutitsij and Kolomna. Countersigned on reverse by Pa- 
triarch Alexei of Moscow, dated October 24, 1967. Pink silk ; black printing. 
Edge of eileton visible at top, antimension sponge at top right. Same clichet 
as for preceding antimension (No. 19). 

21. Reverse of antimension (No. 20) showing counter-signature : "Alexei, Patriarch 
of Moscow and all Russia, October 24, 1967" (at top), relic-pouch (center), and 
inscription giving name of the church in which the antimension was conse- 
crated (bottom) . 

22. Russian Catholic Antimension consecrated at Rome on October 4. 
1933, by Bishop Peter Bucis. Printed in black on white satin. 

23. Russian Catholic Antimension consecrated January 12, 1967, by Bishop Andrew 
Katkoff in Rome. Printed on white satin in 6 colors by Vatican Polyglot Press. 
Cfr. above pp. 41 ff. 

24. Reverse of same. Relic pouch visible as white square. Relics in waxmastic visible 
through cloth as dark round spot (upper center). Design faintly visible through 

Antimension printed in black on dark blue satin by Greek Orthodox in vear 1963. 
Consecrated at Rome by Russian Catholic Bishop Andrew Katkoff, January 12, 
1967. On the bottom the Bishop has written "to be used in all places in Christ's 
Kingdom by Reverend Father N.N." Beside the Entombment it bears ikons 
of Deposition, Resurrection, the Church Triumphant, the 4 Evangelists, various 
instruments of the Passion, and the Holy City of Jerusalem. Tt bears the printed 
inscription around the edges in Greek : "A Divine and Sacred Altar (Thysiasterion) 
for the purpose of the Divine Priestly Celebration." 

Serbian Orthodox Antimension, unconsecrated. White linen printed in black. 
Bears Ikons of 12 scenes from the Passion besides Entombment. Underneath 
is printed in Paleoslav a verse from Canticle of Canticles : "I sleep bm my heart 
keeps vigil." (cant. 5 : 2). 

Melkite Catholic Antimension, unconsecrated. Printed in 1903 at Rome ; black 
on white linen. Printed inscriptions in Arabic and Greek. 

Melkite Catholic Antimension consecrated by the late Patriarch Maximos IV 
Saigh. Printed in Egypt in 1948, in black and red ink on green linen. Golden 
silk lining sewn on back. No handwritten data of consecration. Relics at lower 
edge under printed seal. Printed inscriptions in Arabic and Greek. 

29- Ukrainian Catholic Antimonsion consecrated in 1721 by Anastasij Septitskij, 
Archbishop Metropolitan of Kiev ; printed in black on white linen. 

30. Ukrainian Catholic antimension consecrated May 1, 1851, by Bishop Mikhail 
Levickij for the Church of St. Barbara, Vienna. Printed in black on white linen. 

3i. Ukrainian Catholic Antimension consecrated by Andrew Septitskij, O.S.B.M., 
Metropolitan of Halic, Archbishop of Lvov, Bishop of Kamenec (d. 1944)- Design 
by I. Makarevic, 1901. Printed in black on white linen. 

32. Ukrainian Catholic Antimension consecrated by Bishop John Bucko at Rome. 
Stamped Property of United States Military Ordinariate. Printed in black on 
white linen. 

J. M. Izzo - The Antimension 

33- Ukrainian Catholic Antimcnsion consecrated December 8, 1956, by Bishop John 
Bucko and distributed by S. Congregation for the Oriental Churches. Design 
by Priest-monk (Studite) Juvenali. Inscriptions in Greek; printed in black and 
red on white linen. Red silk lining sewn on back. 

35- Ukrainian Catholic Antimension consecrated by Major Archbishop Joseph Car- 
dinal Slypyj, April 27, 1967. Printed in black and red on white linen. Design 
by Priest-monk (Studite) Juvenali. Red silk lining. 

36. Ruthenian Catholic Antimension consecrated February 27. 1064, by Bishop 
Nicholas Elko of Pittsburgh (U.S.A.). Printed in black and red on white linen. 
Red silk lining. Name of priest for whom intended written by Bishop. 



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Wooden antimension in the shape of a bread-board conserved in the Museum attached 
to the residence of the Serbian Orthodox Patriarch of Belgrade. The design and 
inscription are drawn in black ink on white paper glued to the wooden board. Con- 
secrated by Metropolitan Stephen on December 6, 1791. For full translation of in- 
inscription, etc., vid above p. 34. 


Agnec (Agnetz) vid Amnos 
Akoluthia 292 vid also Cin (Order) 
Albanians vid Italo-Greek-Albanians 

Aer {Vozdukh, large chalice & diskos veil), 39, 79, 89, 285, 286, 288, 290 

Allatae Sunt (Papal Encyclical) 125, 155 ff, 165 

Allation Tradition 64, 74, 83 

Alexander, Metropolitan of Novgorod 130 

Alexei (Simanski), Patriarch of Moscow 318, 319. 

Alexios Aristenes 54 

Aloes 22, 66, 67, 288 vid also Wax-mastic 

Altar, ad modum fixi ("stable") 147, 154, 181, 311, 312 

Altar, Byzantine 19, 25, 37, 100 ff, 207 ff ; damaged or moved 297 

Altar cloths, use of 

on Byzantine Altar 110-11,230 (vid also Katasarkion, Endytes) 
with Byzantine antimension vid. Corporal ; eileton ; Hyphasmata ; not ne- 
cessary 109 

with Latin antimension 178, 183, 192, 208, 212, 217, 219, 222 

on Prothesis 108 (vid also Prothesis) 
Altar, fixed (immoveable 225 ff 
Altar, Hebrew 13, 15, 18 ff 
Altar, History of Christian 12 ff 
Altars, Roman Rite, who can consecrate 57 
Altars, metal 95, 110' 
Altar, pagan 14 ff 
Altar, Papal 162 

Altar, portable 225 ff, vid also Antimension, portable; Antimensium Latinum ; 

Petra Sacra 
Altar, Roman Rite 225 ff 
Altar, stable, vid Altar, ad modum fixi 
Altars, wooden, vid Tablet ; wooden altar 
Ambrosian (Milanese) Rite 39, 113, 162 

23 J. M. Izzo - The Antimension 


Amnos (Agnetz, Lamb) 38, 40, 310 
Analogion {Analoj, lectern) 98, 285, 289 
A ndimisi 

as A. 24 

as Corporal 25 
Andrew Katkoff, M.I.C., Bishop ix, 42, 44, 320, 321 

Andrew Sheptitsky, Metropolitan of Hallich, Archbishop of Lvov, Bishop of 

Kamenech 325 
Anointings, where made 71, 74, 76, 292 
Antidoron (Blessed Bread) 288 
Antimension (Byzantine) 

as an historical document 99-100 

as used in Byzantine Divine Liturgy 103 ff ; passim 
burning of old 87, 88, 89, 94, 95-101, 230 
confused with eileton or with corporal 25 
container for carrying, vid container 
consecration of 

by a Priest 56-62, 229 

outside consecration of fixed Altar 62, 63, 64, 65, 73, 84, 229, 277-284 
cut from cloths used to wipe altar 62, 69 ff 70 
cut into pieces 84 ff, 93, 205 
definition of 14, 23 ff 
dimensions of 33 ff, 104, 307 
equivalent to an Altar 12, 58, 105 ff 
essence of consecration of 49, 51 
etymology of name 23-25 
fixed 50, 94 ff, 103, 114, 128 
folding of 36, 112 ff 

forbidden to Roman Rite Priests, vid Canon 823 (CIC) 
kept spread out under Altar cloths 114 ff 
Liturgy "invalid" without 123-124 
mailed 59 

moveable (portable) 50, 78, 95, 103 ff, 113, 115, 128, 229-230, inscription 

specifying 104, 137, 321 
nailed or sewn to altar 103, 114 also vid a., fixed 

names of vid. Greek Corpral ; katheriosis ; throne ; thysiasterion, "Veil 
with Relics" 

necessary fo Divine Liturgy 42, 117, 123-124, passim 
"not a consecrated altar" VII 
not to be used on Prothesis 108 


"not used by a Bishop" 128 
orthography of 23-25 
photographs and drawings 308 ff 
portable vid moveable 
practicality of 59, 80 
sewing of, vid sewing 
sewn to altar cloths vid A., fixed 
shape of 35 ff 

substitutes for altar 24 ff., 105, 116 ff, 230, passim 

supplies for consecration of place 3, 47, 55, 105, 131, 208, 230, passim 
Symbolism of 232 
symbolism of folding 112 
thrown into sea 100 

used as corporal 12, 78, 81, 115, 230 vid also A. used on consecrated altar 
used as portable altar, vid A., moveable 
used outside Diocese (Eparchy) 59, 127, 135 

used on consecrated altar 50 ff, noff, 118, 315, 316; vid also A., used as 

used to hallow (consecrate) Church, vid Consecration of Church by a Priest 

violation of 80 ff 

washing of 49, 85-94, 205 

when torn or worn vid torn ; worn 

wooden Antimension 34, 340 ; vid also wooden altars. 

vid also Eileton 

Antimensium Latinum (Roman Rite Antimensium) 1, 3, 109, 136, 141, 162, 
169 ff., 171, 173 ff, 231 
blessing of 197 ff, 302 
color of 191 

etymology of name 184 ff 
and Petra Sacra 210— 211 
photograph of 313 
sewing of 205, 303 

use of altar cloths and corporal with vid Altar cloths ; Corporal 

washing of 202, 205, 303, 313 

where Relics placed 209 
Antitnins vid Antimension (Byzantine) 
Antony, Bishop of Smolensk & Dorbush 317 
Apostol (Epistle, Epistolary) 41 

Apostolic Continuity & A. 3, 58, 120, 123, 152, 230 

Apron (Savanon, Zapon, Lention, Sracica) 68, 71, 75, 277, 285, 286, 289, 291, 294 


Apse 107-108 
Arabic 24, 323 

Archieratikon {Pontificate) vid Euchologion 

Archimandrite 129, 213 

Archon ton Ekklesion 65 

Archpriest 129, 293 

Arcosolium 17 

Armenian Rite 19, 162 

Artoklasia (Litija) 285 

Artophorion {Darokhranitelnica, Tabernacle) 36, 111, 122, 285, 288 

Aspergil 167, 288, 289, 290 

Asteriskos {Svjezica, "Star") 108, 285, 294 

Athenagoras I, Patriarch of Constantinople 43 

Attar of Roses, vid Rose essence 

Authenticity of Relics, vid Relics, Authentication of 

Bag or pocket for relics 

Byzantine antimension 19, 52, 65, 71, 74, 84, 93, 95, 96, 318, 319, 320, 323 

Roman antimensium 196, 202, 203, 277, 283, 302, 313 
Balsamon, Theodore, vid Theodore Balsamon 
Baptism and necessity of A., vid Initiation, Christian 
Baptism and Consecration of A. compared, vid Initiation, Christian 
"Basilians" 140 
Bebelon (profaned) 91 
Beeswax 19, 66 vid. Wax-mastic 
Bells 290, 295 

Bema (Sanctuary, tribune) 143, 294, 295 
Bibliography 235-270 
Biographical note 271-272 
bi-ritual clergy 140, 216 

Bjelorussia (White Russia, Byelorussia) 127, 157 ff 

Blastares vid Matthew Blastares 

Blessing, Altar as source of 75, 78-79 

Blessings, "reserved", in Roman Rite 114, 198 ff, 208 

Boat, celebration of Divine Liturgy on 106, 132, 136, 212, 217 

Bogorodica vid Theotokos 

Braga (Portugal), Rite of 162 

Brest-Litovsk, Union of 157 

Broken Altar Stone 163-164, 217 

brush or rod to apply Holy Myron (Chrism) 66, 76, 277, 280, 285 


Bulgarians 62, 114, 122 
Burial of A. 100 

Burning of old A., vid A., burning of 
Burse 114, 142, 211 
Byelorussia vid Bjelorussia 

Caeremoniale Romano-Seraphicum 192 
Calcutta 178 
Canon 1 (CIC) 162 
Canon 15 (CIC) 215 
Canon 20 (CIC) 194 

Canon 823 (CIC) 2, 3-4, 105, 1472, 155, 161 ff, 165, 167s, 183 ff, 230, 231 ; 

"abolished" 165 
Canon 1147 (CIC) 198 
Canon 1148 (CIC) 199-200, 204 
Canon 1198 (CIC) 192 
Canon 1283 (CIC) 194 
Canon 1305 (CIC) 204 
Carmelite Rite 162 
Carthusian Rite 162 
Catherine the Great, Empress 317 

Catholics, Byzantine Rite vii, viii, 1, 2, 3, 8, 37, 42, 52, 53, 76, 97, 106, in, 113, 

114, 115, 116, 122, 123, 125, 139, 150 ff, 228, 229, 315, 319, 321, passim 
Catholic Near East Welfare Association 168 ff, 220 ff 
Celebret, A. as 3, 58, 120, 135, 152 
Ceromasticum vid wax-mastic 
Chalcedon 117 
Chaldean Rite 19, 25, 162 
Chalice veils vid A er ; Kalymma 

Chaplains, Military 27, 106-107, I2 7» I 3 I » I 7^» 221 ^» 2 3 I » 2 9&> 3 2 5 

Charts 233, 307 

Chorbishop 132 

Chrism vid Myron, Holy 

Chrismation, Holy Mystery of (Sacrament of Confirmation) vid Initiation, 

Cin 85, 87 ; vid also Euchologion 
Cinovnik vid Euchologion ; Pontificate 
Cistercian Rite 162 

Cleri Sanctitati (Motu Proprio, C1CO De Personis) 60 
Cloths sewn to A. vid Hyphasmata 


cloths used to wipe Altar, A. made from 62, 69, 84 

Coat of arms 42, 319, 323, 324, 325, 326, 327 

Codex Rubricarum 109, 185, 192, 197, 200, 207 

Collectio Rituum (Roman Ritual partially in English) 197 

colors, liturgical in 

colors of A. 46, 307, 317 ff 

Communicatio in sacris 120, 125, 152, 161 

Confirmation, Sacrament of vid Initiation, Christian 

Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (Redemptorists) 140 

Consecration of A. by a Priest 55 ff, 198 ff, 229-230 

Consecration of a Church by a Priest 63, 128-131, 285-297 

Consecrations, who may perform in Roman Rite 198 

Constantine Cabasilas, Metropolitan of Dyrrachium (Durazzo) 50, 79 

Costantine V, Emperor 117 

Container for A. 96, 98, 109-110, 114, 142, 144, 162, 211 

Coptic Rite 137, 162, 315 


Byzantine A. used as 12, 25, 36, 91, 96, 109, in, 112, 114 ff, 125, 153, 154, 

191, 230, 233; vid also eileton 
Roman Corporal 36, in, 112, 114, 115, 126, 153, 156, 177, 178, 179, 180, 
181, 188 ff, 191 ff, 197, 200, 207 ff, 225 ff, 230, 233 
to be used with byzantine A. 109, 168, 179, 230, 233 
to be used with Antimensium Latinum 109, 177, 178, 179, 180, 181. 
207 ff, 217, 233 
"Corporal, Greek" vid "Greek Corporal" 
Corpus Iuris Canonici 188 
cotton 189 

Council of Carthage 46 
Council fo Chalcedon 86 
Council of Florence 153 
Cross, Hand vid Hand Cross 
Cross, hollow 96 

Cross, Sign of 38, 41, 46, 98, no, III, 113, 203, 280, 286, 291, 292, 293, 295, 296, 

312, 314, passim. 
Cum Admotae (Pontifical Rescript) 137 ff, 212, 2i6ff 
Cutting A. vid dividing 

Cyprian (Kiprian), Metropolitan of Moscow 85 

Darokranitelnica vid Artophorion (Tabernacle) 
Deacon 98, 107, 141, 142 


Decennial Faculties 179 ff, 186, 187 ft, 201, 210, 219, 231 
Decretum Gratiani 188, 189 
Desecration vid Loss of Usefulness 
Diakonikon (Sacristy) 92, 143 

Dignitary who prepares A. vid Archon ton Ekklesion 
Dionysios (Denis), St. 77 

Diskos (Diskarion, Paten) 36, 53, 112, 281, 282, 285, 286, 287, 288, 289, 294, 
295. 3io 

Distinction between Consecrations and Blessings 

in Byzantine Rite 78-79, 128 

in Roman Rite 199 
Dividing (cutting) A. 42, 83, 85 
Divine Liturgy, "invalid" without A. 123 ff 
Divine Liturgy, requirements for 105 ff. 
Divisions of Byzantine Rite 4 
Domestic Oratory vid Prayer House 
Dominican Rite 162 

Domus Ecclesiae 13, 16, 27 vid also Prayer House 

Eileton (Iliton) 11, 23, 25, 37, 39, 84, 87, 97, 98, no, in, 112, 114, 115, 116, 
117, 123, 142, 144, 169, 229, 285, 288, 308, 309, 318 ff ; sewn to A. 37, 84, 
169, 323 ; blessing of 112 

Endytes (Inditija, upper Altar Cloth) 89, 90, in, 277, 285, 286, 288, 290, 294 

Enkainia (Dedication) 58, (63), (73) 

"Enthronement" of A. 94-95, 120, 129, 131, 212, 213, 287 

Emperor 120, 127, 131, 132, 133, 143 

Eparch, Eparchy (Diocese) 99, 127, 133, 150, 157 

Epimanika (Cuffs) 98 

Epistolary vid Apostol 

Epitaphios (Plaicanica, Shroud) 39, 43, 45 
Ethiopian Rite 20, 64, 137, 162, 316 

Etsi Pastoralis (Apostolic Constitution) 25, 124, 126, 148, 153, 155, 164 
Eucarist, Holy, vid Divine Liturgy ; Initiation, Christian ; Seven Days cele- 

Euchologion (Cinovnik, Pontifical) 49, 54, 56, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 72, 73, 75, 76, 

77. 83, 94, 112, 121, 130, 131, 284, 292, 296, 297 
Euphemia, St. 117 
Eusebius of Caesarea 106 
Evangelists, Symbols of, vid Hyphasmata 

Exarch, Exarchate (similar to Vicariate Apostolic) 120, 132 


Extra loca sacra, celebration ("outside a sacred place") 106, 128 ff, 131 ft, 137 ff, 

212, 221, 228 
Fasting 287, 297 

Fixed (immoveable) A. vid A., fixed 

Byzantine A. 36, 112 ff ; Symbolism of 112 

Roman Corporal 112, 192 
Fontes Cognoscendi of Byzantine Canon Law 6, 7, 9 
Forties Existendi of Byzantine Canon Law 6, 7, 9 
Franciscans vid Order of Friars Minor 
Frankincense (olibanum) vid incense 

Gallican Rite 71-72 

Geez (Ethiopian Liturgical language) 316 

Generals 143 

Georgia, Georgians 114 

Germanos, St., Patriarch of Constantinople 39 

Gospel Book (Evangelary, on altar) 94, 111, 112, 113, 285, 288, 289, 290, 294, 

graphemenou (signed) 69 vid also signature of Bishop 

Great Entrance (Megale Eisodos, Veliki j Vkhod) 45, 107, 112, 310 

"Greek Corporal" 25, 147 

Greek- Venetian Tradition 64 

Greece, Greek viii, 41, 65, 85, 91, 94, 96, 97, 100, 101, 113, 114, 115, 120, 123, 

126, 130, 131, 143, 150 ff, 321, 323, passim 
Gregorian Water 202 
Haghia (holy, holy things) 78, 79 
Haghiasmou metadotika 78, 79 
Halic (Halich) 325 

Hand-Cross (on Altar) 36, 111, 285, 287, 288, 289, 290, 291, 294, 296 

Heghiasmena (blessed objects) 78, 79 

Hegumenos (Igumen, Abbot) 129, 140, 293 

Hemp 177 ff, 217, 219, 231 

Hermits 15, 127, 131 

Hiera (sacred objects) 78, 79 

Hieromena (consecrated objects) 78, 79 

Hieromonachos vid Priest-Monk 

Holy Office, Sacred Congregation of 155, 161 

Holy Water 73, 84, 202, 203, 204, 229, 286, 287, 290, 291, 292, 293, 294, 295, 
296, 302 ; vid also Gregorian Water 


House, celebration of Divine Liturgy in 106 ; vid also Extra loca sacra 
Hyphasmata 36-37, 40, 71, 111, 321 
Hypodeacon (Poddiakon, Subdeacon) 142, 143 

Icon vid ikon 

Iconoclasts 29-30, 46 ff, 86, 105, 107, 117, 118, 150 

Ikon (icon, eikon) 29, 38 ff, 65, 79, 98, 107, 133, 285 ff, 321, 322 

Ikon corner 98 

Ikonostasis (iconostasis, iconostas) 95 
Iliton vid eileton 

Imposito Nobis (Apostolic Constitution) 124-125, 126, 127, 155 ff, 164, 165 
Incense (Frankincense, olibanum, livani, ladan) 20, 66, 67, 84, 288, passim ; vid 

also Wac-mastic 
Incensation 282, 295, 312 
Inditija vid Endytes 
Indults, particular 222 ff 

Indult for Roman Rite cleric to use A. 167 ff., 300, 301 

Initiation, Christian 

A. necessary for 47-48, 71-72, 106, 120, 132, 229, 293 
compared to consecration of Church and A. 71 ff, 229, 293 

Institutio Generalis Missale Romanum 225 

Instructio ad Exsecutionem Constitutionis de Sacra Liturgia Recte Ordinandam 
(1964) 198 

Instructio altera ad Exsecutionem Constitutionibus de Sacra Liturgia Recte Or- 

diandam (1967) 193 
Inter Multos (Apostolic Constitution) 148 

Inter-ritual use of Antimensia and Roman altars 1545., passim; vid Canon 
823 (CIC) 

"Invalidity" of Liturgy without A. 123-124 
Irkutsk 104 

Isadore Pelusiota, St. 39 

Italo-Greeks vid I talo-Greek- Albanians 

Italo-Greek-Albanians 52, 96, 99, 101, 124, 125, 126, 149 ff, 161 ff, 230 

Jacobites 28, 49 
Jeromonakh vid Priest-Monk 
Jesuits vid Society of Jesus 
Joachim Patriarch of Moscow 293 
Joasaph, Patriarch of Moscow 85 
John Bucko, Archbishop 325, 326 


John Chrysostom, St. 86 

John of Kitros (Macedonia), Archbishop 32, 48, 50, 59, 63, 69, 70, 79, 107, 

Joseph of Arimathea 40, 45 

Joseph Cardinal Slipij, Major Archbishop 327 

Joseph, Patriarch of Moscow 97 

Jugoslavia (Yugoslavia) 35, 41, 58 vid also Serbia 

Juvenali, Bishop 318 

Juvenali, Priest-Monk (Studite) 326, 327 
Jona, Metroplitan of Rostov & Jaroslav 97 

Kalymma (Pokrov, small Diskos & Chalice vails) 79, 89, 122, 277, 281, 285, 288, 

290, 294 
Kamenec 325 
Karlovici 34 

Katapetasma {Zavjesa, Curtain) 285, 289 

Katasarkion (Priplotije, Sradica, under altar cloth) 89, 90, 97, 103, 104, 110-111, 

114, 285, 286, 288, 290, 293, 294 
Kathierosis {OsvjaZcenije, Consecration) 25, 55, 63, 87 
Kathierothesia (consecrated bojects) 78, 79 
Keromastike vid wax-mastic 
Kiev, Metropolitanate of 157 
Kiprian vid Cyprian 
Klucar (lay Sacristan) 65, 277 

Ladanum, Labdanum 19, 20 vid also Wax-mastic 
Laity and A. 59, 65, 128, 141-144, 212, 230 

Liturgical 79, in, 285, 288, 290 
represented on A. 38 
Laodicea, Council of 143 

Lateran, Archbasilica of St. John (wooden) Papal Altar in 105, 155-156, 314 

Latin American, Decennial Faculties for 179, 219 ff. 

Latin Antimensium vid Antimensium Latinum 

• 'Latinisms", "Latinization" 90, in, 114-116, 150 ff 

Latin Rite Liturgy, vid Roman Rite Liturgy 

Leiturgikon, Liturgikon vid Slulebnik (Missal) 


as a purificator 11 1 


as a towel or apron 68 

vid also apron 
Leo the Philosopher, Emperor 47 
Leo III the Isaurian, Emperor 150 

Leopold II, King of Hungary & H. Roman Emperor 34 
Liber Pontificalis 188-189 
Linen, Symbolism of 34, 188 

used for Byzantine A. 35, 81, 84, 105, 106, 127, 135, 229, 307, 322, 324, 
325, 326, 327, 328 

used for Antimensium Latinum 165, 175, 1873, 217, 219, 231 
Lining (Eileton) sewn on A. 37, 84, 169, 323 
Linteum 187 fif 
Lithuania 157 

"Little Consecration" of a Church 292 vid also Consecration of Church by a 

Livani vid Incense 

Loss of Usefulness of A. 80 ff, 204 ff, 230 
Louis the Pious, Emperor 29 
Lucian, St. (Priest & Martyr) 15 
Lvov (Lviv, Lwow, Leopolis) 325 
Lvov, Synod of 114 
Lyons, Rite of 162 

Makarevid, I. 325 

Makarios, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch 85 
Malabarese Rite 25, 162 
Malankarese Rite 162 

Manuel Charitoupolis, Patriarch of Constantinople 32, 42, 47, 62, 69, 105, 107. 

118, 119, 131 
Marble dust 19, 66, 67, 84; vid also Wax-mastic 
Marcian, St. 28, 31 
Maronite Rite 61, 162 

Martyrs, Sacred Relics of vid Relics, Sacred 

Mastic (gum) 19, 66, 67, 288 ; vid also Wax-mastic 

Matthew Blastares 32, 46, 48, 54, 59, 69, 70, 71, 91, 108, 119, 129 

Matthew, Patriarch of Constantinople 32, 120, 121, 131 

Maximos IV (Saygh), Patriarch of Antioch, etc., Cardinal, 42, 323 

Melkites 42, 52, 94, 112, 113, 114, 121, 122, 323 

Mensa (Altar Table) 13 ff, 24, 49, 52, 73, 74, 154, 225 ff, 229, 286, 291, 292, 
293. 312, 314 


Mensa-Domini tradition 12 fT, 182 
Metochia 51 
Mexico 175 ff 

Michael II Balbos, Emperor 29 

Military Ordinariate vid Chaplain, Military 

Missal, Byzantine vid Sluiebnik 

Missale Romanum 53, 90, 193, 225-227 ; vid also Ordo Missae 
Missions, Missionaries 177 ff., 217 ff, 231, 302 
Molitvennykh Dom vid Prayer-House 
Monastic Rites, Western 162 
Monophysites, Syrian 28, 49, 132 

Morality 82, 87, 92 ff, 108-109, 123, 200, 208, 219-220 
Mozaribic Rite (Toledo) 162 

Myron (Chrism), Holy 20, 49, 56, 57, 59, 62, 66, 69, 70, 71, 74, 75, 76, 77, 79, 84, 

93, 151-152, 199, 203-204, 229, 277, 280, 283, 285, 286, 292-294, 312 

anointing of Relics with 71, 74-75, 76, 283 

application by Priest 56 (199), 292-294 

applied with brush or rod 277, 280, 285 

composition of 66, 151-152 
Myrrh 20, 66, 67 ; vid also Wax-mastic 

Naples 150 
Naukratios 28-29 
Nestorians 132 

Nicea, Second Council of 30 ff, 46 ff, 49, 54, 116, 130, 131, 227-228 

Nicephoros I the Confessor, St., Patriarch of Constantinople 31, 48, 49, 59, 81, 

85 ff, 106, 107, 133, 275-276 
Nicephoros II, Patriarch of Constantinople 86 
Nicholas Cabasilas, Metropolitan of Thessalonica (Saloniki) 71 
Nicholas T. Elko, Bishop of Pittsburgh 327 
Nikaphorion 38 

Nikon Metropolitan of Moscow 95, 97, 118, 120 

Nilos (Nilus, Nil) Kerameos, Patriarch of Constantinople 32, 59, 107, 127, 131 
Nomocanon 88 
Normans 150 
Novgorod 85 
Nuns 141, 202 

Oikos Eycheterios vid Prayer-House 
Oinathe 67 ; vid also Wine 


Olibanum vid Incense 
Order of Friars Minor (Franciscans) 140 
Ordo Missae (1969) 90, 164, 207-208, 225-226 
Oriental Christians and CIC 9, 162 

Orientalium Ecclesiarum (Vatican II Decree) 124, 148, 161 
Orlec (Eagle Rug of Bishop) 278 

Orthodox vii, viii, 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 37, 43, 53, 73-73, 81, 82, 83, 85, 97, 106, 114, 

115, 122, 142, 150 ff, 157, 229, 317 ff, passim 
Osvjascenije vid Kathierosis 
Othonion (Linen Sheet, Shroud) 189 

Paisios, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria 85, 292 

Paisios (Pantaleon) Ligerides 97 

Panteleimon, St., Monastery of 41 

paper antimensia 34 

Paraekklesiarch vid Sacristan 

Paratrapezion 108 ; vid also Prothesis 

Parecclesia (Parekklesia) 95 

Pastorale Munus (Motu Proprio) 2, 135 If, 180, 190, 200, 212 ff, 231 
Patriarchs 43, 59 ff, 64, 66, 83, 85, 99, 120, 127, 151, 153 
Paul (Pavel), Metropolitan of Kaluga 97 
Peculiare I us {Motu Proprio) 162 

Pedalion (Rudder) 53, 54, 56, 85, 86, 89, 100, 130, 143 
Peter Bucis, Bishop 319 
Peter the Great, Tzar 43, 292 

Petra Sacra (Roman portable Altar Stone) 2, 12, 19, 23, 34, 76, 80, 104, 109, 117, 
118, 125, 126, 129, 134, 136, 137, 138, 147-148, 152, 153, 154, 157, 159, 
163-164, 167, 168, 169-171, 173, 175 ff., 190, 192 ff, 194, 200, 203, 208- 
220, 225, 227, 229, 231, 233, 298, 300, 301, 311, 312 
and Antimensium Latinum 2 10-2 11 
photographs of 311, 312 

Philaret, Metropolitan of Moscow 43, 44, 88, 90 

Phillipine Islands, Decennial Faculties for 179, 219 ff 

Pimen (Izebekov) Metropolitan of Kruticij & Kolomna (present Pat. of Mo- 
scow) 318 

Pistacia Lentiscus 19, 66 vid also Wax-mastic 
Pod-diakon vid Hypodeacon 
Pokrov vid Kalymma 
Poland 155 

Pontificate, Byzantine vid Euchologion 


Pontificate Romanum 185, 186, 190, 194, 195, 202, 203-204, 226 

Portable Altar vii, 2, 12, 19, 23, 27 ff, 33 ff, 55, passim ; vid also A., Portable ; 

Antimensium Latinum ; Petra Sacra 
Portable Altar, Byzantine Antimension as vid A., moveable 
Portable Altar, Privelege (indult) of 120, 131 ff, 134, 212, 214, 221 
Prayer-House 47 ff., 77, 128, 131 
Premonstratensian (Norbertine) Rite 162 
Prestol vid Table, Holy 

Priest-monk (Hieromonachos, Jeromonakh) 139 ff, 230, 326, 327 
Printed A. 41 ff, 309 ff 
Priplotie vid Katasarkion 

Proskomedia (Proskomide) 108 ; vid also Prothesis 
Prosphora (Altar Breads) 38, 289 

Prothesis, Table (altar) of 19, 95, 107, 108, 109, 113, 122, 127, 285, 286, 288, 
290, 294 

Protohegumenos (as Provincial) 140 
Protohiereus vid Arch-Priest 
Protojerej vid Arch-Priest 
Protopappas vid Arch-Priest 
Protopresviter vid Arch-Priest 
Psalomsciki (Minor Clerics) 289 
Pskov 85 

Redemptorists vid Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer 

Relics of the Saints, Holy 3, 12, 16 ff, 27, 30-32, 466, 48, 53, 54, 71, 74, 76, 

77, 78, 80, 84, 90-91, 93, 95-96, 99, 100, 101, 103, 105, 106, 117, 136, 154, 

165, 169, 177 ff, 183, 193 ff, 197, 202, 203, 205, 209, 217, 219, 226 ff, 228 ff, 

277 ff, 281, 283, 2855, 292, 298, 302, 310, 311, 313, 315, 316, passim 
Relics, anointing with Sacred Myron, vid Myron, Holy 
Relics, authentication of 65, 169, 177 ff, 298, 302, 314 

Document of authentication 196, 202 

Who competent to authenticate 195-196 
Relics, position of in Antimension ; Byzantine 52-53, 71 ; Roman 177, 196, 

202, 209 
Replacing A. 

ceremony for 94-95 

occasions for 94-95 
Rhodostamos vid Rose-water 
Ripidia (Liturgical Fans, Flabella) 281 

Ritual vid Euchologion ; Rituale Romanum ; Roman Ritual ; Trebnik 


Rituale Romanum 176, 186, 187, 195, 197 ff, 200, 201, 202, 204 
Rockrose (Cistus) vid Ladanum 
Rodostama vid Rose Water 
Romania 41, 94 

Roman (Latin) Rite Liturgy 113, 114, 117, 162, 192 ; vid also Missale Romanum; 

Ordo Missae ; Rituale Romanum 
Roman Rite Antimensium vid Antimensium Latinum 
Romanos, Metropolitan of Dyrrachium (Durazzo) 69, 118 
Roman Ritual (in English) 197, 302 ; vid also Collectio Rituum 
Rose Essence (Attar of Roses) 66, 67 ; vid also Wax-mastic 

Rose Water (Rhodostamos, Rodostama) 49, (62), 67, 74, 76, 109, 277, 280, 285, 

286, 288, 290, 291, 292, 295 

substitutes for 67, 277 

symbolism of 290 
Rubricarum Instructio (Motu Proprio) vid Codex Rubricarum 
Russia, Russian viii, 41, 65, 67, 72, 73, 81, 82, 85, 94, 96, 97, 98, 99, 101, 104, 

106, 108, no, 113, 114, 122, 123, 127, 128, 130, 142, 317 ft 
Ruthenians 42, 65, 73, 108, 113, 114-115, 124, 156 ff, 159, 327 ; vid also Ukrainians 

Sacramentary vid Ordo Missae 
Sacraments of Initiation, vid Initiation, Christian 
Sacrarium, Byzantine vid Thalassidion 
Sacrarium, Roman 90 

Sacred Congregation of the Consistory 178, 212, 219 
Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office ; vid Holy Office 
Sacred Congregation for the Oriental Churches 127, 212 

Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith (for the Evangelization 
of the Peoples) 155, 179, 180, 189, 212, 217, 219 
Sacred Congregation for Religious 212, 219 

Sacred, Congregation of Rites (for Divine Worship) 198, 205, 226, 227 


lay vid Kludar 

Priest (Paraekklesiarch) 98 

vid also Archon ton Ekklesion 
Sacristy vid Diakonikon 
Sanctuary vid Bema 

Sanctissimus (Instruction) 125, 153 ff, 155 
Savanon (apron) 68 ; vid also Apron 
Sealing wax 196, 202, 314 
Sepulcher of Petra Sacra 80, 311, 312 


Serbians 34, 96, 99-100, 340 ; vid also Jugoslavia 

Seven days, celebration of Divine Liturgy on A. for for 69, 75, 76 (78), 119, 
284, 287, 296 

Sewing of A. after consecration of 65, 83, 84, 94, 100-101, 103, 114, 283 ; A. sewn 

or nailed to Altar cloths or Altar 103, 114 
Shroud vid Epitaphios ; Othonion 

Signature of Bishop on A. 42-44, 62, 68-69, 75~76, 84, 93, 309 ff. 
Silk A. 35, 81, 188-189, 229, 307, 317, 318, 319, 320, 321, 326, 328 
Sinaitic Tradition 64, 67, 74 

Sindon (Shroud) 58-59, 189 ; vid also Epitaphios, Othonion, Shroud, Super 

Slulebnik (Leiturgikon, Byzantine Missal) 81, 82, 89, 90, 108, 113, 114, 116, 

122, 289 
Smyrna (Myrrh) 66 
Soap & Water 73, 286, 291 
Sobor (Cathedral) 97 
Society of Jesus (Jesuits) 140 

Soiled A. 81, 82, 83, 101, 230 ; vid also Loss of Usefulness ; Washing of A. 
Source of Consecration of A. 54, 69-70, 75 
Sozomen 106 

image printed on A. 38 

kept in chalice 291 

kept in folded A. 94, 112, 87, 94, 285, 288, 310, 318 

used to wash & dry altar, distributed as souvenirs 68, 74, 79, 287 

Spoon, Liturgical Communion 79, 111, 285, 288, 290 


as altar cloth vid Katasarkion 

as apron 68 ; vid also apron 
Stephen, Stratomirovic, Metropolitan of Karlovici, Valacho, etc. 34 
Stipites (columns supporting mensa) 52, 73, 74, 291 
Stole, Priestly (Epitrachelion) 98 
Stripping Altar 75 
Studites 140, 326, 327 
Subdeacon vid Hypodeacon 

Sub Dio (open air), Celebrating Divine Liturgy 109, 140, 217 
Substratum Commune of Byzantine Canon Law 4-6 
Super Sindonem, Ovatio 39 

Symeon Archbishop of Thessalonica (Saloniki), St. 32, 34, 39, 48, 52, 56, 57, 
63, 64, 67, 70, 71, 75, 77, 78, 89, 105, 106, 116, 130, 132, 134, 142 


Synaxis (Monastic Council) 140 
Synod of Carthage 56 

Synod of Moscow, Holy Ruling 43, 97, 98 
Syntagma Alphabeticum vid Matthew Blastares 
Syracuse 150 

Syrians 25, 28, 49, 61, 137, 162, 315 

Table, Holy (Haghia Trapeza, Prestol, Altar of Sacrifice) 19, 43, 45, 95, 107, 113 
Tablet (tablith, tabot, Wooden Altar Tablet) 20, 25, 28-32, 33-34, 61, 105, 125, 

127, 137 (155, 156), 314-316; vid also Wooden Altars 
Thalassa, Thalassidion (Sacrarium) 87-88, 230 
Tarasios, St., Patriarch of Constantinople 86 
Teplota (Zeon, Hot W T ater Cup) 89, 90, 288 

Theodore Balsamon 32, 46, 47, 49, 54, 62, 105, 107, 129, 130, 132, 133 
Theodore Studite, St. 28, 31, 33, 105 
Theodoret of Cyrus, Bishop 15 
Theodoret of Syracuse, Bishop 28 
Theophilos, Emperor 29 

Theotokos, (Bogorodica ; Mary, Mother of God) Ikon of 40, 285, 287, 289, 296, 
302, 309 ft 

Throne (A., Holy Table) 25, 39, 126, 153 ff ; vid also Table, Holy 
Tkysiasterion (A.) 19, 29, 105, 315, 321 
Timofei (Timothy), Metropolitan of Moscow & Siezsk 317 
Tonkin 163 

Trebnik (Ritual) 64, 68, 72, 73, 97, 111, 119, 120, 129, 289, 292, 293, 294, 295, 

296, 297 
Tribadion 13 

Troparion (tropar) 43, 45, 281-282, 287, 294, 295 
Trullo, Council of 133 
Typikon 64, 75, 11 1 

of the Great Church 64 

of St. Sabbas 64 

vid also Ustav 

Ukraine, Ukrainian viii, (27), 42, 65, 72, 73, 76, 113, 114-115, (127), 140, 157, 

325, 326, 327 
Ustav 75, 284 ; vid also Typikon 

"Veil with Relics" (A.) 147, 169-171, 175-179, 197 
Venice 64, 151 ; vid also Venetian Tradition 


Vicar Delegate 201 

Vicar General 201 

Vicariate of Rome 4, 193, 313 

Vicenza 189 

Vladimir 290, 295 

Violation of A. 80 ft, 297 ; vid also Loss of Usefullness 
Voskomastik vid Wax-mastic 
Vozdukh vid Aer 

Washing of A., vid A., washing of 
Water, Holy vid Holy Water 
Wax (Beeswax) vid Wax-mastic 
Wax, Sealing vid Sealing wax 

Wax-mastic [Keromastike, Voskomastik, Ceromasticum) 19, 20, 52, 66, 67, 74-75, 
76, 84, 93, 277, 283, 285, 286, 288, 289, 290, 291, 320 
ingredients of 19, 52, 66-67, 2 88 
preparation of 66, 290 
Symbolism of 20, 67 

use of 20, 52, 66, 74-75, 76, 93, 283, 286, 291 
White Russia vid Bjelorussia 
Willibald, St. 28 

Eucharistic (Precious Blood), spilling of 88-90, 204 

used at cons, of A. & Altar 62, 67, 69, 71, 285, 286, 288, 290, 291, 292 

Wooden Altars 12-16, 20, 25, 28-32, 32-34, 61, 73, no, 127, 154, 155-156, 181, 
291, 314-316 ; vid also Lateran, Archbasilica of ; Tablet 

Wooden Antimension 34, 340 ; vid also wooden altars 

Worn A. 81, 82, 83, 230, 303 vid also Loss of Usefulness 

Yugoslavia vid Jugoslavia 

Zamosc, Synod of 114, 115 

Zapon (apron) 68, 71 vid Apron 

Zavjesa vid Katapetasma 

tertvennik vid Prothesis, Table (altar) of